Jul 27, 2016 | By Alec

When you think about it, we are all making a remarkable exception for 3D printing. While everything around us – from our TVs, to our smartphone screens and all other possible accessories – are produced in multiple colors, most of us are content with a single-colored print. And to be fair, while multi-color 3D printing is certainly possible, its results are rarely flawless. Canadian 3D printer developers ORD Solutions is now seeking to change that with a brand new desktop 3D printer, called the RoVa4D Full Color Blender. Capable of producing flawlessly blended multi-color prints in any possible color using just five different filaments, it is even accessible enough for a child to operate. No wonder that it’s a huge Kickstarter hit already, easily surpassing its pledge target within days of being launched.

ORD Solutions, as you might know, is of course no stranger to Kickstarter – finding success with their MH3000 3D printer (with five extruders) in 2013 and again in 2014 with the RoVa3D 3D printer. All of the feedback received since then has now led to the RoVa4D 3D printer, which has an ambitious goal: to bring color blending to ordinary 3D printing hobbyists and making your 3D printer as potent as your 2D color printer.

To clarify, blending is not exactly the same as multi-color 3D printing – which allows you to combine two differently colored filaments into a single print with clearly separated sections. Instead, the RoVa4D extrudes separate cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and white filaments into a single hot end, where they are blended together to form a single mixture, depending on the colors you need. “This works similarly to your inkjet printer at home except that we also need white filament, since we aren't printing on paper,” its makers say.

Essentially, it gives us access to unlimited 3D printable colors that can all blend into each other throughout the model. “Not only can it blend CMYK+W colors to create any color in the rainbow, but our new 3D printer can ALSO blend PLA based materials, like hard and soft to create an infinitely variable hardness of material,” they explain. “Five different materials go into one hot end and they are mixed together to produce new material. Combining these together you can create hybrids of each one. It works the same as the color, but instead of creating a new color, they blend together and create a material with new properties.”

This certainly creates a very wide range of 3D printing options, which are supported by three separate hotends: one for 3D printing any color, hue or shade, another for flexible materials and a third for dissolvable supports. “If you want you can switch between all three during a single print,” they add. “The reason these are separate is because the base polymers of different materials don’t play nicely with the PLA of the full color nozzles.” Carbon fiber, wood, transparent, metal-based and even soft materials are all options that have been successfully tested already.

The RoVa3D 3D printer can thus change 3D printing conventions completely, as we are now limited to buying dozens of rolls of filament that mostly sit around to collect dust. Instead, you can simply stick to just five filaments, that can be blended into, theoretically, any color option you’d like to try. Just like a 2D printer mixes just four colors into anything. “With this printer you will get consistency in color, and you can just pick the color you need from an infinite pallet. It's easier and faster,” they say, adding that it’s as simple as picking the colors from a Pantone scale or using the rgb or cmyk codes from a color picker.

It sounds like a 3D printing dream, but a designing nightmare. But ORD Solutions seem to have thought of everything for the RoVa4D. Featuring a Simplified Work Flow platform, it allows you to simply take a 3D printable model from Thingiverse and color them – either with a photo or another pre-made design that is wrapped around the model, or with a simple painting tool.

For that latter method, you are presented with a Photoshop-like color wheel and a variable brush that allows you to paint the wildest color schemes. Once complete, the RoVa4D simply blends the filaments and 3D prints your colors exactly. “The printer knows which color is in each of the extruders and it knows which extruder is for cyan, which is for magenta, etc. It combines in the ratio that is required for that color into the mixing chamber where it is mixed/blended together to produce the new color, and that is what comes out of the nozzle and is what is printed. We've made it really easy to make ANY 3D model into a multi-color model,” the Canadian developers say. As you can see in the clip above, it works very well indeed.

While this blending feature is already enough to justify the 3D printer’s crowdfunding success, the hardware itself also meets all expectations. It features a strong aluminum all-metal frame, while all non-metal parts have all been injection molded, rather than 3D printed. Other features include automatic bed leveling, auto nozzle height control, electronic offset control, liquid nozzle cooling, an automatic cooling fan, a wireless color touch screen, and a Wi-Fi 3D printing. The RoVa4D’s nozzles, meanwhile, are all made from durable zinc-coated copper.

What’s more, the RoVa4D is also compact due to a print bed that moves on the z axis, while the print head only moves in the x/y axis. “Core x/y is more accurate and more repeatable than any other linear motion system,” the designers say. The build volume itself is a very respectable 12 x 12 x 12 inches, while interchangeable Geckotek Plates serve as heated printbeds to ensure that each material is 3D printed on a suitable surface.

All in all, the RoVa4D Full Color Blender 3D Printer comes with all the features hobbyists can hope for, while we are particularly impressed by the machine’s unprecedented filament blending possibilities. And thanks to a realistic price tag of just $4500 Canadian (or approximately $3400 USD) for an early bird version, ORD Solutions could have a huge Kickstarter success on their hands. For more info, check out their crowdfunding campaign here.



Posted in 3D Printer



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Greg P. wrote at 1/27/2018 7:16:13 PM:

Seeing a monochrome 3D print of the City of London got me thinking how much better it would be if it could be produced in color, and the search brought me here. I'm looking forward to seeing this technology perfected. Right now it looks very promising, but obviously many hurdles exist in getting the printer to mix colors properly, to truly "print in full color." But is it possible to paint the finished object in full color instead? I mean, wouldn't it be much more practical to automate spray-painting the surface in a final operation, using a painting arm or boom? Just thinking out loud.

Spaceman wrote at 8/1/2016 6:36:49 PM:

That will be a nightmare keeping that color right.

mick wrote at 7/28/2016 5:37:57 PM:

I congratulate you on your design and build. However looking at the output quality I just don't see why people keep perusing multi color FDM. I have a hard enough time keeping one color working let alone 4. I could see this for multi material on one print.

mick wrote at 7/28/2016 5:36:41 PM:

I congratulate you on your design and build. However looking at the output quality I just don't see why people keep perusing multi color FDM. I have a hard enough time keeping one color working let alone 4. I could see this for multi material on one print.

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