Mar 10, 2016 | By Andre

3D printing with multiple colors is something that’s been around for years now. Z-Corp (long since acquired by 3D Systems) has been 3D printing in all the colors of the rainbow since first developing their inkjet-like 3D printing head back in the early 1990s. But, as is often the case, interest in multicolor 3D printing didn't break out in popularity until the low-cost desktop 3D printer boom we're still caught up in took hold.

Makerbot’s first generation Replicator, for example, while not technically the first multicolor 3D printer to hit the market, was certainly the most popular for a good long while. And although it was the last Makerbot with a lasercut plywood frame, it remains the one 3D printer responsible for bringing dual extruder technology to the forefront, if only for a little while.

What this means is that instead of the usual one printhead to deposit material onto the print surface to make a 3D print, there were two with the ability to alternate between filament spools on a single layer to produce two color 3D prints. It was never a perfect solution in the quest for low-cost multicolor 3D printing but it was a noble start that led to a great number of dual extruder 3D printers since.

Of course, a multicolor 3D printer is nothing without a good 3D print file to go along with it so we here at 3ders felt it was time to showcase some of our favorite multi extruder 3D prints out there today. And when it comes to searching for easy to access 3D print files, there’s no better place to start than Thingiverse and its neighboring sites.

Animals

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #1: Two Color Cat (standing) and (lounging)


This tame little feline gets the zebra treatment and is a perfect tester file to see if both your extruders are depositing just the right amount of material for those glorious two-color 3D prints you're after. Avoiding sloppy color switches that often occur with multi extruder 3D printers is integral for clean results after all.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #2: Multi-Colored Checkered Octopus


Feeling a little bit checkered? This plastic sea creature features crisp lines and is a great exercise in dual extrusion 3D printing.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #3: Dual Draudi

Looking to 3D print a slippery looking lizard but don’t want to settle on a single design? This dual extruder family of efforts is an early showcase 3D print for Spain’s BCN3D printers revealed in mid-2015 and recently covered here at 3ders.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #4: Two Color Tree Frog


Ever since Toronto based Maker MorenaP uploaded her treefrog to Thingiverse in 2012, just about everyone I know has given the clever little 3D print a try. So it was a happy surprise when the masters of design over at Nervous System released their own tree frog with with two-color 3D printing in mind.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #5: Sharkie Dual Extrusion


The internet can be a strange place where the most bizarre happenings become memes for little to no reason. During the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime show, the left shark that danced along side Katy Perry became internet famous for a quick few days and a multi-color 3D printable version of him arrived soon thereafter.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #6: Superb Owl Dual Extrusion


Sure, the Super Bowl is over but that doesn’t mean you and your pet owl can’t prepare for next season. This original take on another classic 3D print could act as the perfect luck charm on your television set during next year’s big game.

Fun and Arty

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #7: Julia Vase #00


Here’s another example of an incredibly popular 3D print made even cooler with the help of multi-color 3D printing. This organic looking vase really comes to life with its zebra blend of flowing colors.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #8: Dual extruder shot glass


Every time someone asks me if 3D printing from desktop machines is food safe I usually say technically no, but then go on to suggest I’ve 3D printed and used shot glasses before with no ill-effect other than a slight headache the following morning.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #9: Star Bracelet


If you’re one of the fortunate few in possession of a 3 or more extruder 3D printer, this well designed three-color bracelet is worth checking out.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #10: Pen Pot Dual


For whatever reason, in just about every job I have ever had in 3D printing, I end up using a failed 3D print as a penholder. It’s about time I 3D print myself something like this beautifully designed container to keep my pencils and things in.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #11: Lightweight Flexible flier


Here’s a perfect example of thinking out of the box. The designers of this model mixed red and rigid PLA with a translucent and flexible filaflex 3D print filament in the 3D print job to create a super cool glider!

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #12: Six Sided Die


This die is not going to win any awards for most spectacular 3D print. But I feel it belongs here and I'll tell you why. It's here because of all those times I’ve wanted to 3D print one only to eventually pass because it would involve manually dotting the numbers with paint. Who has time for that when you can 3D print everything in one go!

Enclosures and Electronics

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #13: Baby NES Raspberry Pi B+ Case 


Raspberry Pi cases have quickly replaced smartphone cases as the go-to 3D print for the curious tinkerer. This original NES 3D print will surely impress anyone at your local makerspace.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #14: Giftbox with Two-Colored Voronoistyle Lid

 

If you’re in the market to 3D print a compelling box to store your favorite tiny possessions in, this giftbox is a perfect way to start.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #15: Dual Extrusion StormTrooper Iphone 5 Case


While this phone case is unfortunately limited to use with an older generation iPhone, it’s minimalist stormtrooper design is a thing of geeky beauty. It’s the perfect case for any Star Wars fan with a curiosity for printing into the third dimension.

Popular Culture

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #16: Jack Skellington Bust


A Nightmare Before Christmas has become one of Tim Burton’s classic films there’s no question there. This multicolor Jack Skellington Bust will fit nicely into the collection of any big-time fan.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #17: Guy Fawkes


Whether you’re looking for a Guy Fawkes pin, phone case or coaster there are multicolored options available for any fan of the popular mask popularized by both the the film V for Vendetta and eventually the hacker collective known as Anonymous.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #18: Hellboy Dual Extrusion Bust


Hellboy, a comic book hero turned into successful movie star lends himself nicely to dual extrusion 3D printing on account of his being made up of entirely two colors. Granted, yellow eyes would have been a nice touch!

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #19: Tin Tin Rocket


The universally recognizable red and white checkered rocket from the Tin Tin series can be 3D printed at a very large scale thanks to this clever design which allows for easy assembly once 3D printed.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #20: Makerfaire Robot dual model


This little Makerfaire robot easily belongs into a sub-sub-category called Niche Popular Culture in so far that if you’re into 3D printing, you’ve probably come across the popular Makerfaire robot. Thingiverse user ImmersedN3D spent a little bit of time modifying the original articulated bot for use on a dual extruder 3D printer.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #21: Thundercats HO!

 

I’m going to sneak this one in here on account of me being a product of the 80s. If Saturday morning cartoons of that era are considered the Golden Age, then Thundercats and its intoxicatingly catchy opening theme rules supreme. Nobody will fault you for wanting one of these 3D prints.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #22: Desk Shrooms

 

Uncovering a mushroom surprise in a coin box in the Mario games was always a treat. Discovering this sleek looking dual extruded version late in my search for multicolor 3D prints is a treat as well.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #23: Fashion Traffic Cones Collection

A fun little test for your dual extruder, these creative 3D printed traffic cones do not require supports, and can be scaled to just about any size. Print a bunch of set up them up during your next RC Formula One race.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #24: Dual Chili Extruder

Beyoncé may have hot sauce in her bag, but she probably doesn’t have this awesome 3D printed dual chilli extruder, designed for the ubiquitous red and green Sriracha bottle, aka Rooster Sauce. This ingenious 3D printed device offers “double the nozzles for twice the spiciness in half the time”—now that’s some good math.

Dual Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #25: Art Nouveau Hair Ornaments

These beautiful and artistic hair accessories make use of your 3D printer’s dual extruders to create elegant, Art Nouveau-inspired designs in contrasting colors. The simple five-pronged comb can then be used for formal or everyday up-dos, and makes for an excellent gift.

Bonus: Single Extruder Multi-color 3D printing

While being able to 3D print multiple colors without assembly is great, some of the coolest multicolor 3D prints are done using clever filament swapping methods or made possible by the manual assembly of 3D printed files.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #1: Monkey Minions Keychain / Magnets


Sometimes it’s the little prints that can bring the most joy to friends and family around you. These cute, multicolor creatures are perfectly suited for batch printing and giveaways to your Minion loving friends.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #2: Customizable Necktie

 

I’ve printed and worn a 3D printed tie before. I’m not ashamed. What I’ve never had the honor of doing is to 3D print a multicolor tie and gone out into the world with it. This will likely change in the very near future thanks to this discovery.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #3: Folding DNA model kit 


Perfect for educational demonstrations but also just really cool 3D print demonstrations, the folding DNA model kit allows you to configure strands of DNA into a great number of combinations (just like the real thing!)

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #4: Customizable Multiline Tag or Keychain


Thingiverse’s Customizer always surprises me when I come across a creative use of its scripting language. In this case, you can easily make your own custom keychain by modifying an easy template and typing your text.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #5: Traffic Cone (Single Extruder version)


A test file for both the dual extruder Replicators available by Makerbot, the traffic cone is likely one of the most common multicolor 3D prints around. So for all you single extruder jealous type out there, why not check out the assembly-required version of the popular cone.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #6: Abstract multi-color Art

 

As someone that’s dabbled with 3D printing with multiple colors for years, I don’t feel too guilty embellishing by adding some of my own work to this list. Done entirely by manually swapping filament, I’ve created a number of postcard size 3D prints throughout the years using single extruder 3D printers.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #7: 3D Printed Flashlight


As we covered in an earlier story, Mosaic Manufacturing 3D printed a functional flashlight with their single filament multicolor unit called the Palette. Using a combination of PLA plastic and F-Electric 3D printer filament, all the team needed to produce light was a battery and a tiny lightbulb.

Single Extruder Multicolor 3D Prints #8: Modular Companion Cube


The notion of putting single extruder, assembly based 3D prints in this list feels a bit like cheating. But at the same time, making any 3D print list without having a companion cube is much worse of a crime. It is a known fact that anybody that owns a 3D printer has also 3D printed a companion cube.

What are your favorite dual extruder multicolor 3D prints?

In the end, while it’s true that dual extruder 3D printers have their limits in terms of practical usefulness during these early days of 3D printing, designers have been doing their best to create a library of imaginative creations throughout the years.

Do you have a favorite multicolor 3D print that’s not listed here? Feel free to share your stories and comments below.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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