Sep 29, 2016 | By Andre

There are announcements for new 3D printers just about every day and it’s certainly worth paying attention to them just in case something comes along that pushes the envelope further along. But all too often we are left with a flashy crowd-sourced promo video and a promise of faster this or better that only to be disappointed.

But in recent weeks, one of the pioneers in the desktop 3D printer racket, Josef Průša and his MK2 series of 3D printer have been making a splash for all the right reasons. First there was the XYZ calibration system that provides easier than ever across the board print calibration techniques, and now his company, Prusa Printers, is at it again with a multi-material 3Drinter upgrade that takes a different approach to 3D printing in up to four colours.

Up until now, most FDM based desktop 3D printers used dual (or more) extruders to produce multicolor printing and while this sounds well in good in theory, it leads to heavier extruder carriages, more wiring, sloppy prints, smaller build volume potential and ultimately difficult to calibrate 3D printing (there’s just too much happening at once).

Instead, he’s gone with a system very similar to what Mosaic Manufacturing has done with their Palette but instead of releasing it as a standalone system, he (with the help of the open-source community) has built it right into the MK2 3D printer as an optional add-on.

What this means is that instead of having multiple extruders clunking around on their respective axis, the upgrade allows for four unique spools of filament to be fed directly into a single extruder. In essence, the different filament simply takes turns going through the same hot-end and while this seems like a simple enough conclusion to come to, years of development by many people have proven this to be more difficult than it seems.

For one, the electronics for the MK2 wasn’t equipped to take on the challenge right off the bat so Josef and his team came up with a way to multiplex the motors. This means all of the separate filaments can be fed independently without an expensive overhaul of the already versatile MK2 3D printer.

Another major issue that has plagued multi-extruder 3D printers over the years is sloppy printing. A common problem is that since both extruder heads must remain hot at all times during a print, one nozzle tends to ooze its self onto the the second color after it places. A solution for a while was to create what’s called an ooze shield that is designed to minimize this drip but from my experience the shield would either topple over or never quite work as advertised.

What the MK2 does instead is allow for a clean transition to take place away from the 3D print itself using a secondary raft in the corner of the build tray. This, just like was done in the Palette system mentioned above, means clean colour switches with none of the drippy sloppy mess that would otherwise go along with it. It is worth noting that this process will inevitably slow down your 3D print quite a lot compared with what you would have gotten with a single colour system but that’s not the end of the world. It’s not like full-color ink jet printers were as fast as their black and white counterpart in those early days either.

So how do you get your hands on one of these nifty little upgrades? Well, it seems you’ll have to wait a few months until the November release date and also shell out an additional $199 (2 material) or $249 (4 material) to get one. And if you really can’t wait, they are accepting beta applications via an email link at the bottom of the Prusa Printers website.

To me, this is all very exciting news. Josef Průša has been innovating in the 3D printer space on his own terms since the release of his very first RepRap without compromise. And while the years gone by champion of desktop 3D printing Makerbot had a whimper of an announcement with their most recent Replicator+, Průša continues to impress without any of the gimmicks so common in the 3D printer space today.



Posted in 3D Printer



Maybe you also like:


Sancho wrote at 10/3/2016 4:50:15 PM:

@Craig: Well, with this approach you can move the purge area wherever on print bed - only using 5x3cm of space for this, while the rest of the bed remains active. Compare it to dual-nozzle, where you have to sacrifice ~3cm from both sides for the whole length of the print bed. Do the math ;) And still - if you print just 1 color, you don't sacrifice anything - the whole bed stays active for your print. For me this sounds significantly better.

John wrote at 10/1/2016 7:04:01 PM:

Would you still be able to set specific settings for each color? Filament Diameter, Temperature, etc?

Shane wrote at 9/30/2016 8:21:06 PM:

Craig: I think Josef is saying you can either use the entire surface with a single color, or you can use most of the surface with multiple colors. Multicolor over the entire surface is currently out of scope.

Wing Wong wrote at 9/29/2016 9:49:59 PM:

Hmm... the dump space they employ is a good approach(to keep things simple). If a printer had a "purgearea", however, then they could just move the head there and dump how ever much they needed to, without sacrificing more than the absolute minimum of usable print space. Say a 10x10mm corner. They could just move the head there, purge the necessary amount(maybe a color sensor) then move the head back, having a brush/wipe to catch any strands.

craig wrote at 9/29/2016 1:18:31 PM:

So let me ask this question. If they say that having two nozzles are a disadvantage due to the less printing area then why would they have this unit print on the bed and take up A LOT more space?

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive