Sep 2, 2016 | By Alec

Have you ever dreamed about multi-colored prints? We certainly have, and we are doubtlessly not alone. The problem is that virtually all 3D printers that work with differently colored 3D printer filaments suffer from the dreaded ooze (a leakage of filament from the extruders, causing colors to drip on places where you never wanted them) and from excess filament blending. This tends to result in very sloppy, unprofessional 3D prints. Probably the best solution is a ‘wipe tower’ created next to your print, where excess filament is deposited to prevent color blending or oozing.

Dutch 3D printing specialists from Printr have now institutionalized this solution by embedding even more efficient ‘Donut Wipe Towers’ into their Katana cloud slicer, which is part of Printr’s Formide. While some slicers offer solid wipe tower options, these donut-shaped alternatives will enable faster and more efficient 3D printing. Most importantly, the dual-color prints will be perfectly clean.

Printr is a young Dutch startup from Amsterdam (founded back in 2014). And they are on a mission to streamline the entirety of 3D printing, to make the whole experience more effective and open than ever. Key in their approach is Formide, a cloud-based 3D printing platform that enables users to easily prepare, queue, print, control and monitor multiple projects on multiple printers. This fantastic setup was enabled by a seed funding round that raised $820K in the fall of 2015, and is also assisted by plug-and-play USB dongle The Element.

This Donut Wipe Tower concept perfectly underlines what Printr is all about, as it is both efficient and effective. For starters, its shape ensures that it takes far less time and material to 3D print. “As the extruder skips the middle part of the wipe tower and only prints the outline of the donut, it does not use as much filament compared to a regular wipe tower and thus, saves printing time,” the Printr team explains. What’s more, they have enlarged the base of the wipe tower to make it far more stable than other tower designs out there – which occasionally fall over.

Printr has ensured that users are free to optimize their time and material usage even further by setting a specific infill percentage for this wipe tower. Should they be 3D printing with filaments that are not necessarily very compatible (such as PLA and PVA), they can also choose to create two separate wipe towers simultaneously.

But Printr has also been thinking about the entire concept of dual-color 3D printing, and have come up with a solution to stop filament from leaking out of the extruder before the set temperature is reached. Finding inspiration in BCN’s Independent Dual Extruder (IDEX) trays, they have reprogrammed the dual extrusion process to ensure that extruders only heat up while positioned over the hollow part of the Donut wipe tower. The wipe tower thus doubles as leaking tray, ensuring that the entire 3D printing process remains as clean as possible.

This Printr innovation thus makes the entire process of dual-color extrusion both cleaner and more efficient. It only makes Formide’s cloud-based slicer Katana even more appealing for dual 3D printing applications. Katana has already been programmed to detect issues that are specific to dual extrusion setups, such as detecting which parts are 3D printed in dual colors and which are not. If only a the bottom portion of a print needs to be dual-colored, Katana is already capable of automatically detecting this and will stop the Donut wipe tower action once the dual-colored portion is complete.

This also works vice-versa, because if the bottom 90 percent of a 3D print contains just a single color, Katana will automatically manufacture a single-color wipe tower to accommodate the dual-colored top 10 percent. “This way no unnecessary extruder switching, and thus heating, is done,” its developers say. Printr has just made dual 3D printing a whole lot more appealing.



Posted in 3D Design



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