Colorjet 3D Printing
Colorjet 3D Printing, also called 3D printing – 3DP or ZPrint, is the most common additive technology to create full-color models. It allows to create high-resolution, full-color 3D prints.
The technology is popular for applications such as architectural models, design prototypes, sales and exhibition models, models for education and science, as well as 3D figures and fantasy objects.
ColorJet 3D printers works much like an ink jet printer. However, rather than printing on paper, the printer prints on thin layers of white plaster powder.
The “ink” in this process is actually the binder that holds the powder together. There are 5 different colored binders which are mixed to directly create the colors of the model while simultaneously creating the shape.
The third-dimension is created by printing each layer on top of the previous layer and binding the printed sections across the layers. After finishing one layer, the printing platform moves downward (0.088 or 0.1 mm), new plaster is applied and the next layer is printed. This process then goes on and repeats as often as needed.
After successful printing, the model is still soft and fragile. The model is carefully cleaned in this semi-finished state and finally infiltrated with an acrylic compound (commonly known as ‘super glue’). This infiltration provides the model’s strength. In our Premium Finishing process, models go through two additional steps of surface enhancement after infiltration, this is above and beyond the standard manufacturer recommended process.
Colorjet 3D printing process schematic. Source: Wikipedia
Conventional architectural model building involves a lot of manual work and is therefore a cost and time consuming process. With Colorjet 3D Printing, the various pieces, colors and textures of the model can be created during printing and be finished overnight while you sleep – saving time and money. Since designs are almost always created by the architects as 3D models, a 3D print does not require much extra work, to easily and efficiently create a model for presentation to investors, customers or internal stakeholders. More…
Models for fairs and exhibtions
It often won’t work taking entire machines to fairs or exhibitions. With the Colorjet technology, small, full-color replicas can be taken to the events or sales pitches, to present your products as realistic miniaturized models. More…
Models for Science and Education
Full-color models of organs, anatomical structures, or complex molecules can be easily created with the Colorjet technology. Data from CT, MRI, MRT, NMR or 3D microscopy technologies can be easily processed and printed into enlarged (or minimized) and colored physical objects. More…
- Allows full-color 3D prints
- Cost efficient technology
- No support structures necessary
- Brittle, low mechanic strength
- Cannot be used for functional prototypes, since abrasion is too high and the material breaks easily
- Not water-resistant
The standard material for Colorjet printing is plaster powder. More details about the material can be found here.
The material is often referred to as full-color sandstone because it looks and feels similar. However, unlike sandstone, it is not weatherproof. After the standard production process, the surface is rough and very sensitive to moisture. For more discerning customers we developed a Premium Finishing process which adds process steps to smooth the surface and protect the material with a clear coating. This is particularly important in humid climates.
The ‘raw material’ is plaster powder, which is bound by colored glue. While the material is not harmful to touch, it is not food safe. It also should not be used for toys, since parts can easily break off and become a hazard to children.
Full-color plaster raw material
Full-color plaster is a gypsum based material. It is used for all kind of fully colored models (design, architecture, science and education, etc.).
- Clean part from excess powder
- Infiltration with cyanoacrylate (‘super glue’), to increase stability
- Surface smoothing
- Clear coat sealing
- Epoxy coating
- Epoxy infiltration
- Spray painting
Colorjet technology was developed at MIT in the early 1990s and later licensed to multiple companies. Chief among them was ZCorp (the printing technology is still commonly called ‘zprint’), who continued to develop the technology and created the first commercially available machines.
In 2012, ZCorp was acquired by 3D Systems who rebranded ZCorp’s ZPrinters as the Projet X60 line of machines. The basic technology is still identical with the machines developed by ZCorp with improvements in resolution and reliability.
Filled build platform of a 3D Systems Projet 660 Pro after completing printing.
Share this page