Aug 30, 2016 | By Andre

For every solution to a problem in 3D printing it is often the case that brand new, unexpected complications spring up. For the last few years, multi-colour 3D printing on your typical desktop filament based 3D printer was limited by a duel extruder technology that was prone to jams and sloppy colour transitions.

But just as the new problems arise, solutions to produce cleaner and more reliable 3D prints continue to spring up all around. Case in point is the Prometheus System, a multi-filament 3D printing solution designed to work with your existing 3D printer that is about to launch on Kickstarter (September 6).

Based out of the Canadian University town of Kingston, Ontario, the system plugs directly into any existing open-source 3D printing motherboard (RAMPs or RAMBO for example) and with the help easily accessible slicing software is capable of 3D printing multi-color pieces using a very innovative process.

And Eric Sammut, CEO of DisTech Automation (the company behind the add-on) suggests he couldn't be more excited about what he and his team have developed. He notes “single color and single material 3D printing has always been the standard for low-cost 3D printers. The Prometheus System will expand the capabilities of these 3D printers and enable them to produce vibrant multi-color objects, print with support material, and create unique multi-material prints.”

The Prometheus system works with a single extruder nozzle instead of a dual-extruder. This means that, similar to the Palette (another Canadian made multi-colour system by Mosaic Manufacturing) you get multi-color 3D prints out of a single extruder head and the method seems simple enough but looks can be deceiving.

The premise is based around the idea of feeding two separate filament strands into a single hotend at interchanging rates. And while this has been attempted with limited results in the past (the colour switch transition period usually takes far too long to produce crisp transitions) the Prometheus system solves this issue by building a separate tower along side of the part being printed for the colour transition to take place smoothly.

Efforts have been made in software to reduce stringing of filament (which leads to jamming), to provide extra torque with strong motors and extruder refinements that reduce cold-zone jamming (when plastic sticks to the inside of the hot-end nozzle).

The results available do suggest a very clean color change process indeed, and while the tower described has been used by Mosaic Manufacturing in their system, a fresh spin on an established idea is never a bad thing. Additionally, as is the case with many burgeoning Kickstarter campaigns, the open-source community is being consulted every step of the way and Creative Commons principals are being adhered to.

Early information has the Prometheus starting at roughly $150 USD and moving up in price as early-bird specials get gobbled up by the Kickstarter campaign. If you are on the look-out for an affordable multi-filament solution that can 3D print multiple colours and materials in the same run, it might be worth keeping an eye out for the Prometheus System by DisTech Automation. And if you can't wait for the campaign page to get underway, they just released the promo video online for the world to see.



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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Tormod wrote at 9/1/2016 5:07:09 PM:

@Joost, @Ekaggrat, seriously.. Of course there are several other companies and hobbyists that make dual extruder systems, but does that mean no one should try to make better designs?

Joost wrote at 9/1/2016 8:54:40 AM:

Builder 3D printers are standard equipped with a dual extruder system...

ekaggrat wrote at 9/1/2016 3:22:00 AM:

the entire idea is a rip off . It has been published before by a italian designer on thingiverse:

Eric Sammut wrote at 8/31/2016 4:31:28 PM:

@ scottm This method of multi-filament 3D printing is actually much more difficult than it looks. People have been trying to do this for a long time without any success. Our design has custom machined parts and custom G-Code that enables reliable filament switching without jamming. Once the campaign goes live you can read through the campaign page and understand the details of how we got it to work :) @Matthew LaBerge The E3D Cyclops never really caught on because it suffers from some serious printing quality issues that often affect hot ends with that design (Cyclops melts both filaments at the same time). If you are printing white and black with the cyclops, you will get color contamination because there is always some molten black filament in the hot end while you are extruding the white filament. This causes streaks of contaminated color in the printed object and it does not look pretty... As you can see from the pictures of our printed parts, our single hot end solution does not have these issues! The colors are perfectly clean without any cross contamination. As for our acrylic extruders, they work flawlessly. They are designed so that the acrylic parts can easily withstand the forces exerted on them so there is no issue with cracking. The problem with old acrylic extruders is that they were not designed to take the forces involved in extrusion. Our extruders have never had any issues and the clear acrylic allows you to see what is going on at the drive gear! Cheers, Eric CEO at DisTech Automation

scottm wrote at 8/31/2016 12:04:08 AM:

Seems to have been done already. Just sayin...

Matthew LaBerge wrote at 8/30/2016 5:52:57 PM:

Why would I kickstart something that already exists. Just go buy an E3D Cyclops and two titan extruders and call it a day. Also I thought we were finished using acrylic in extruders, its a terrible idea.

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