Nov.14, 2014 | By Alec

Despite all its creative, artistic and manufacturing potential, there are still some disadvantages to regular desktop FDM 3D printers. Sure, it's a wonderful prototyping tool to test things and quickly make multiple iterations of objects, but these devices are practically limited to printing things in a single color, which doesn't exactly sell.

To be sure, there are plenty of construction options to create a dual-extruder 3D printer that can work with two differently colored filaments, but anyone who's tried that will tell you it doesn't exactly live up to expectations. For starters, every additional extruder added to your printer decreases its build space, so what you add in color you tend to lose in space.

But perhaps more invasive is sacrificing detail. Virtually all FDM 3D printers operating with a dual extruder set-up suffer from the dreaded ooze: a leakage of filament from the extruders, causing colors to drip on places where you never wanted them. This could sometimes result in very sloppy, unprofessional prints.

But fortunately, a third option is just around the corner: Mosaic. What if it were possible to 3D print multiple-colored objects with a single extruder system that doesn't sacrifice any build space and, most importantly, will deliver high-quality, non-oozing results every time? For that is exactly what the Canadian start-up Mosaic Manufacturing is promising with their signature product.

However, this technology isn't exactly on the shelves yet. The team behind Mosaic Manufacturing has just launched its website and are looking to release their promising piece of hardware over the next few months, but have already given us a quick look in their laboratory.

And their stuff is looking promising. As they explained, Mosaic's product is all about bringing color to as many 3D printers as possible. 'Our focus has always been on ease of use, hassle free adoption, and reliability.' Most exciting is their capability of functioning with a single output, without cross-contamination of colours or horrible oozing effects. As the photos suggest, those results look excellent.

To achieve this, they have designed an as of yet unnamed 'add-on' to a typical 3D printing set up that is capable of combining multiple colours into a single production line. This piece of hardware is effectively fusing multiple lines of filament into one single, multi-colored material. And to appeal to the diverse landscape that is the 3D printing community, this product is set to function with just about any brand of FDM 3D printer that runs on G-Code/X3G. Simply plug it in, and you're ready to print.

This product grew out of the 2014 enterprising course Queen's Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII) at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In this four-month program, teams of students planned, developed and prepared innovative start-up plans, culminating in a final pitch to a panel of professors and industry representatives. All plans were developed with $2500 in seed money, all of them aiming at a $40,000 first prize that would allow them to further build their business.

One of the team members had already started a 3D printing service company, where many customers would inquire into the possibilities of multi-coloring. Believing this technology should be available, he convinced his innovation team to make it the center piece of their enterprise. 'The progression to colour made sense to us, we bought into the idea. Each one of us has seen first-hand the power of 3D printing, and the communication potential that comes from the addition of colour.'

Unsurprisingly, Mosaic Manufacturing took home the gold and have been developing their marketable product since then. While no exact release date for this innovative addition to FDM printing has been revealed, we would not be at all surprised if it's a big hit when it does come out. We'll let you know as soon as we learn more.

For now, be sure to check out this YouTube clip of Mosaic's exciting technology in action:

Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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3Drasle wrote at 12/4/2014 12:17:11 PM:

So if you cancel a print for some reason, You then have to clear the tubes before next print?

Rich H wrote at 11/17/2014 3:22:13 AM:

I hate these color teases. They say it can change color every layer, even every 35mm, but I want multiple colors in EACH layer. I think I wont be happy until someone starts voxel printing in 16 bit colors at .1 cubic mm volumes.

Francisco Czapski wrote at 11/16/2014 3:40:20 PM:

Amazing technology Can you imagine if we could feed 4 filaments Cyan Magenta Yellow and black and fuse them together, we could achieve any CMYK colour!!!!

Steve_C wrote at 11/16/2014 1:19:13 AM:

I guess Craig, that's why they call the Wanhao Duplicator a Makerbot Replicator 2 CLONE. And given Makerbot no longer makes the Rep2 (or 2X), your best choice for a working 3D printer that's not expensive yet works without a lot of mucking around, is pretty much a Rep2 clone like the Wanhao Duplicator!

Jason wrote at 11/15/2014 6:02:54 AM:

Now that looks promising to me! :)

Ludovic wrote at 11/15/2014 5:43:35 AM:

Good system and clever idea, but this system is dual colour not multi colour. Also with Stickfilament make it.

Chris wrote at 11/15/2014 1:40:36 AM:

Queens University is in Ontario, not Alberta

cr wrote at 11/14/2014 10:09:46 PM:

Queen's University is located in Kingston, Ontario, not Kingston, Alberta.

Andrew Plumb wrote at 11/14/2014 2:17:30 PM:

Queen's University is in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, not Alberta. It's my alma mater so I'm duty-bound to correct these things. ;-)

Craig Billings wrote at 11/14/2014 12:22:19 PM:

Is it just me or does this thing look like the Rep from MakerBot?

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