Looking for the very best Multi-Color 3D Printer on the market for 2021?
Then you’re in the right place.
Today we’re going to be:
- Looking at multicolor 3D printing;
- Seeing how viable it is for interested creators;
- Finding out which color 3D printer is the best choice for home users;
- Loads more…
Though 3D printing is still in its infancy – and I believe there’s still plenty of wild and wonderful things to look forward to in the coming years – we’ve already made so much progress in the last decade.
One area of continuous innovation is the ability to print in multiple different colors.
As with most 3D printing innovations, multi-color printing was first seen on industrial machines but has been making its way over to desktop 3D printers lately.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Top 7 Multicolor 3D Printers At a Glance
- Multicolor vs. Full Color 3D Printers
- A Few Final Thoughts…
Top 7 Multicolor 3D Printers At a Glance
Multicolor vs. Full Color 3D Printers
I want to start with a pretty important distinction when talking about 3D printers that can print in multiple colors.
Sometimes “full color” is a term used to describe these printers.
And while this is technically true, “full color” more often describes industrial-grade printers that are able to produce intricate color scaling and manipulation (I included one of these on the list – the XRize Rize – for comparison’s sake).
On the other hand…
… we’re going to be mostly looking at multicolor 3D printers, which can usually handle only a small number of different colors, but which tend to fall under the “personal 3D printer” umbrella.
They’re smaller and much, much less expensive.
All that said, multicolor printing is still a very experimental field – much less established than its industrial counterparts.
Given the scarcity of personal 3D printers that can handle multiple colors, I’m going to be looking at every option on the market today, including dual-extruder printers where each extruder can print a separate color and multi-color printer upgrades.
So let’s take a look at the best multicolor 3D printers!
Print Speed: 180mm/sec | Print Volume: 255 x 255 x 255mm | Filament Type: ABS / PLA / PETG | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y | Extruder: Dual
Geeetech has a couple of different 3D printers on the market, and I found the A20M to be its best option for multi-color 3D printing.
Given that the field is still highly experimental, the A20M doesn’t cost much, which is an immediate bonus.
… for any reliable dual-extruder, the A20M is still a great price. It’s also blessedly easy to set up, and the dual-extrusion 3D printing technology tends to work well.
But the real reason I loved this 3D printer was its ability to push the envelope on color mixing.
You really don’t see this very much in personal 3D printers, and it’s completely unheard of at this price point.
With the Geeetech, you can expect to print in two distinct colors (striping or the like) or even mix and/ or grade your colors, allowing for a full spectrum of shades and hues.
To be clear: there is a second Geeetech 3D printer that is almost identical – the A20. This printer is a single-extruder, though, and won’t handle your multicolor printing.
Print Speed: 180mm/sec | Print Volume: 255 x 255 x 255mm | Filament Type: 3D Color-inkjet PLA / PLA / Tough PLA / PETG / Carbon Fiber / Metallic PLA | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y | Extruder: Single
This super-popular 3D printer is probably the first one you’ll see when you search for a personal-use full-color 3D printer.
And there’s a good reason for that.
The da Vinci Color is one of the first (if not the first) personal printers to offer full color printing.
While this 3D printer still has its bugs, it can offer a 3D printing design experience that’s miles ahead of almost any other 3D printer on the list.
The Da Vinci’s full color capabilities mean creators have almost total control over every aspect of their design, including the exterior color design.
Gone are the days of painting by hand; with the right schematics, you can print just about any design imaginable.
The 3D printer also comes with hands-free calibration, which can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend fiddling with the da Vinci Color.
And while I didn’t have enough time to experiment with this feature as extensively as I might have liked, it seemed to work very well for the few prints I tested.
To note: this printer comes in the regular size – which I looked at here – and a miniature version that is basically a scaled-down version of the original da Vinci Color.
Print Speed: 180mm/sec | Print Volume: 235 x 235 x 265mm | Filament Type: PLA / PETG | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y | Extruder: Dual
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this one before: it’s a recent Kickstarter success story, and I only came across it when I was researching 3D printers for this article.
That said, I’m glad I did!
The Shark is a cool, cool 3D printer, and it’s color mixing capabilities are only one piece of its arsenal.
Yes, the Shark has full color mixing capabilities, coming in the form of dual-extruder, much like the Geeetech I reviewed earlier.
Unlike the Geeetech, though, the Shark comes with full-metal extruders and a nozzle head, and showed no sign of clogging over my short trial period.
But the fun doesn’t stop there.
The Shark is also loaded with tons of quality-of-life features, including a removable touch screen, resume printing features, and even laser engraving functionality.
Print Speed: 150mm/sec | Print Volume: 300 x 300 x 350mm | Filament Type: TPU / PVA / PLA / ABS / HIPS / WOOD / PETG / Flexible | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y | Extruder: Dual
Like many 3D printers on my list, I didn’t know what to expect with the Tenlog TL-D3 Pro.
However, its main advantage became clear pretty quickly:
Two extruders, two nozzles.
It seems like a pretty simple adaptation of the popular (and increasingly affordable) dual-extruder design.
But I didn’t give this 3D printer enough credit initially, and so I was utterly blown away by the results of my first couple of prints.
The image mirroring function of the dual-nozzle design is maybe the coolest part of this entire 3D printer.
It means that you can print two identical items simultaneously, in two distinct colors if you’d prefer.
Without delving too far into the enormous potential of this function (try out different colors, double-up on your creation rate, etc.), this is something I expect a lot of other 3D printers to be adopting soon.
But just as easily, these two nozzles can be used on the same product, either filling in a support filament, or going for the multi-color approach.
It almost feels unfair constraining this 3D printer to a list like this…… all thanks to its Swiss-Army Knife-Like variety of functions and capabilit
Print Speed: 100mm/sec | Print Volume: 227 x 148 x 150mm | Filament Type: ABS / PETG / PLA / PVA | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y | Extruder: Dual
Yet another excellent dual extruder 3D printer, the FlashForge Pro, takes the shape of the enclosed-box design, whereas the other dual extruders on the list have all been open-air.
Aesthetically, this has always been my favorite design, though it has its positives and negatives in more objective terms.
Like the previous 3D printer, the FlashForge Creator is a dual-nozzle design, though it doesn’t have the independent-nozzle functionality (and the image mirroring).
However, it does have a substantial metal frame and faster printing on single objects than the two independent heads.
On top of that, the enclosed design allows for better temperature control, and less potential warping as a result.
… FlashForge went the distance with its design, also allowing for increased ventilation options if you’re printing with PLA.
Finally, the reliability of the Creator Pro’s build plate shouldn’t be overlooked.
By and large, issues with build plates, leveling and covers have been the most prevalent issue I’ve had with printing.
Having a solid, completely level plate was a wonderful change for me.
Technology: Extrusion | Print Volume: 310 x 200 x 200mm | Filament Type: Rizium Carbon, GF (Glass Filled), ST (Semi-Translucent), Rizium One White & Black, CMYK inks and Release ink | Color Mixing (Y/N): Y
This one’s just on the list for fun (unless you’re a large-scale industrial manufacturer, of course).
That said, it’s interesting to look at the difference in the price points of desktop-style multicolor 3D printers and an industrial-grade model full color 3D printer like the Rize.
So how much does the Rize cost?
Well, as you can see from its listing, you’ll need to request a quote to find the exact cost.
… what I can tell you is that based on some of the other sites I looked at while conducting preliminary research, the price should fall somewhere around $55,000 – brand spanking new.
And believe me, that isn’t even close to being the most expensive full color 3D printer on the market.
A full color 3D printer can set you back a dime or two.
So what do you get out of one of these color 3D printers that you’ll miss in one of these other, comparatively affordable versions?
For a start off, this full color 3D printer has a precision and control over their 3D print products that nothing else on my list can come close to.
Like the da Vinci Color (one of our most expensive desktop 3D printers besides the Rize), this printer uses Inkjet toner (the same as a traditional 2D printer) to externally bind colors to the filament as it prints.
… with a full color 3D printer of this price, you can expect much, much better color control than anything you’ll get from the DaVinci.
This color 3D printer can also print logos, QR codes… literally anything you can imagine slapping on the side of a 3D printing; this Rize can make it happen.
This full color 3D printer also comes loaded with all sorts of extra features that make it suitable for industrial production: a heated build chamber, automatic filament swapping and digitally-encoded ink cartridges, to name a few.
More than anything, the XRize is interesting because it provides us with a potential roadmap of what a future desktop 3D printer will be trying to emulate.
… the evolution of desktop 3D printer technology usually aims to copy the best capabilities of industrial best 3D printers, but on a smaller, less-expensive scale, of course.
While there are plenty of color 3D printers that can handle multi-color print jobs within their basic design, others need some help.
Nowadays, one of the best ways of getting excellent and low-cost multi-color creations is using a multi-color add-on for color 3D printers. These tend to cost less than getting a new printer altogether, and are compatible with plenty of models (though you should always research the cross-compatibility before you order one).
Compatibility: Ender 3, CR-10, MakerGear, Prusa, Raise3D, Robo, Wanhao, TEVO, Anet, RepRap, gCreate & more | Filament Type: /PLA / ABS / PETG / TPU | Extruder: One
This handy add-on is one of the most cross-compatible modifications out there.
The Mosaic is compatible with all Bowden and Direct-Drive 3D printers, meaning it covers the vast majority of the 3D printing field.
… a simple visit to the Mosaic site will tell you whether your machine is compatible with the add-on or not. Do check first.
Essentially, this technology modifies 3D color printers, so they have the same capabilities as multi-extruder 3D printers.
The Palette 2 comes with four filament extruders, each of which can be loaded with its own color or material.
From there, the Mosaic creates its own filament line, combining filaments into a single filament line, which your multi color 3D printer pulls as it would any other filament line.
It’s important to note that the Mosaic does not “push” filament into your 3D color printer, and your printer won’t need many hardware upgrades to take this new filament line (to your 3D printer, this is just another line of filament coming off a spool, like any other).
As far as color 3D printing goes, this upgrade – and others like it – is one of the better options on the market.
You can get patterns, logos, and solid, well-defined color switches once you get the initial setup ironed out.
As for the integration aspect…
… it’s a somewhat mixed bag.
Assuming your base multi color 3D printer is solid and cross-compatible with this technology, you shouldn’t experience too many issues integrating the Mosaic into your print setup.
… this upgrade does add a layer of complexity to your 3D printer – and 3D printers are known for being finicky to begin with.
I personally didn’t struggle with the integration and had a few solid prints right away.
However, plenty of other reviews say otherwise, so it’s worth mentioning here.
There are, of course, other options on the market for upgrading your 3D printer. Prusa offers their version of this upgrade, the Multi Material Upgrade Kit. However, given that it only handles Direct Drive systems and no Bowden designs, I preferred the Palette 2.
A Few Final Thoughts…
So there you have it – a fairly comprehensive guide to multi-color 3D printing, the best (affordable) multicolor 3D printers out there, one crazy-expensive one, and an alternative option altogether!
When it comes to choosing your best color 3D printer, there are plenty of factors to keep in mind.
When making your decision, you should always consider what specific projects you have in mind and tailor your choice to fit. After all, if you’re looking to upgrade towards multicolor 3D printing, you probably have a couple of exciting ideas in the bag already.
Some of these 3D printers excel at color combining.
For color control, the Da Vinci provides an entirely different system from anything else on the list (besides the XRize) but does so at a higher price point and with a few concerning bugs.
Some color 3D printers come packed with excellent side features, like the Lotmaax Shark.
And others have an ingenious design that comes with other exciting applications, like the dual-nozzle design of the TenLog.
Anyway, your preferences will determine your best color 3D printer, so I’ll hand over the baton to you to make your choice.
You’ll be churning out those colorful 3D prints before you know it.
Great 3D printer for beginners
This printer cranked out quality prints right out of the box in our test. Comes with excellent, all-metal nozzle and extruder and many more features makes this the best value.
Winner: Lotmaxx Shark
So this was kind of an underdog story for me. When I first started looking for the best color 3D printer, the Lotmaxx wasn’t even on my radar.
Yet the more I learned about this 3D printer, the more I was impressed – both by its original design and by its execution. Not to mention that it’s a Kickstarter success and really demonstrates the best aspects of grassroots ingenuity coming out of the color 3D printing field.
Not only is the Lotmaxx an excellent base 3D printer capable of color 3D printing, but it also comes with some innovative features that I haven’t seen in a single other color 3D printer.
The laser engraving upgrade opens up new doors in creative design. The auto bed-leveling works pretty well, and the handheld removable touch-screen is something I haven’t seen in any other 3D printers, no matter what price point.
And to speak on the price… all of this costs less than $500.
Typically, when I review 3D printers by newly-launched companies or Kickstarter campaigns, I’m overwhelmed by a sea of mechanical, software and assembly issues. I had none of these with the Lotmaxx.
In fact, the only persistent issue I had with this color 3D printer came from the build plate adhesion.
In some cases, my recent prints would require a lot of elbow grease and some light chiseling to remove the prints from the plate. This is one of the most straightforward issues to remedy, though, so it’s not even something worth criticizing.
So there you have it!
Whether you choose the Shark or some other color 3D printer on the list (XRize, anyone?), multicolor 3D printing opens up many new avenues for you and your creations.
In a field where companies and creators are innovating every day, I can’t wait to see what new color 3D printer awaits us! Until then, thanks for reading and happy printing!