(Phys.org) —Co-founders of a company called botObjects have announced on their website, the development of a full color 3D printer, the first of its kind. Until now, most 3D printers have been either monochrome or were able to use just a few select colors. The new printer from botObjects—called the ProDesk3D—its makers claim, is able to print three dimensional objects using virtually the same color palette as 2D color printers.
3D printing is achieved by melting certain kinds of plastic then using it as ink to print onto a surface—letting it cool and harden, then reprinting over the same surface causes the ink to build up, creating a three dimensional effect. Most 3D printers use either ABS or PLA—thermoplastics that are suitable for quick melting, cooling and hardening in a way that doesn't impact their color or structure. The ProDesk3D uses PLA—Polylactic Acid—a biodegradable material that can be melted over and over again without losing its integrity, making it a popular choice for 3D modeling and printing. To create the myriad of colors claimed, five color cartridges are used and just like ink jet technology, are mixed together to create new colors and shades.
In their announcement, company co-founders Mike Duma (CTO) and Martin Warner (CEO) said that their new printer is just what the technology world has been waiting for—a printer that can print full color 3D objects in an affordable design. They note also that a lot of effort has also gone into the design of the case, resulting in a look they describe as an "artistic presence"—one that people would be proud to display on their desks.
The two also point out that as a company with a history of creating software to control 3D printers for other brands, they are at the forefront of 3D printer design, which has resulted, they say, in a very easy to use product thanks to its user friendly design. They say it's extremely precise as well—offering precision to 25 microns.
Thus far, the company has not revealed how much the new printer will cost, nor have they demonstrated it to anyone outside of the company, or given a firm date on when customers can expect to put in an order. Thus, the new printer and its abilities are still a bit of a mystery. But, if it lives up to the claims of its developers, it's likely to create a whole new type of computer application—from modeling and/or prototyping to the creation of on-the-fly products that can be used the moment they have finished printing.
Explore further: Xerox looks to make color printing more affordable
Press release: botobjects.com/botObjects_Press_Release_042913.pdf