Dec 4, 2014 | By Alec

Remember the promising start-up Mosaic Manufacturing, that we reported on a few weeks ago? This team of Canadian design and engineering students have been working on a very promising add-on to your typical 3D printer set-up, that will allow anyone to accurately print objects in multiple colors using just a single extruder.

Have you ever looked into multi-color FDM 3D printing? There are plenty of construction options to create a dual-extruder 3D printer that can work with two differently colored filaments, but that 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.

This promising product relies on a technology called S.E.E.M, which the team is currently developing. It stands for Enabled Extrusion of Material, and enables a series of different filaments to be printed through a single extruder without the regular annoying side-effects of multi color printing like cross-contamination and oozing. As the photos suggest, those results look excellent.

While it isn't quite ready to be released yet, their experiments and previews definitely look very interesting and promising indeed. Just this week, they've shared a new example of their product's potential: a 3D printed flashlight, printed with regular PLA filament AND conductive filament through a single extruder on an unmodified desktop 3D printer. All they needed to add after printing was a battery and a small light bulb.

This uni-body flashlight was printed using SEEM technology, and F-Electric Filament.

As the Mosaic team explained, 'Our team always talked about printing a flashlight. Imagine – just add a battery, a light source, and it works.' To realize it, they've relied on some conductive filament samples from the start-up Functionalize, who are currently raising funds for their unique and multipurpose conductive filament material on Kickstarter.

The circuit inside of the part shown during printing

It's really an amazing result that really shows off the potential and accuracy of their S.E.E.M. technology, that really does away with cross-contamination during printing. The company says that its SEEM can now use 3 inputs, so you can use their tech to print both a functioning and colourful part. If you're interested in the design, you can find its files here.

But there's more to this product to just clean printing. While we see clever electronic creations in 3D printed housings all the time, how often do you actually see electronics printed into your object itself? And that just with a normal 3D printer. But it's more than just a gimmick, as it could do a lot for the commercial attractiveness of 3D printing as well. 'Imagine children designing and printing their first circuits in school; the simplicity that can be added to hobbyist projects; the applications this will have for FDM printing in the robotics industry.'

All this makes Mosaic's product all the more promising and potent, and we can't wait to get our hands on it. While we'll obviously have to wait for the release to get to grips with all the machine's details, it's being constructed with an eye on just about every regular FDM 3D printer on the market. If your machine extrudes filament, relies on G-Code data, and is compatible with Slic3r software, you can probably use it to produce wonderful multi-color objects yourself. Keep an eye on their website for its release date.

For more on Mosaic Manufacturing, take a look at this video:


Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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