In making a 3D model, the designer conceptualizes, creates, and advances forth to imagine and manipulate these objects in 3D. Initially, 3D design is centered around forming precise structures, moving them, rotating, and scaling, in an effort to perfect the end product. Ultimately, any 3D designer can relate to the triumph of seeing what was once just an idea transformed into a complex 3D model and then a quality 3D print. And it’s even better in full color.

3D Color Plays an Important Role in Design

The option to 3D print with High Definition Full Color can be considered at any point in the design and ordering process at Shapeways. 3D print colors play a vital role in design, whether for style or for utilitarian use in functional devices like 3D printed sensors and housings. No matter what types of parts you are making though, figuring out how to color 3D prints is critical to your brand.

High Definition Full Color is in demand by customers seeking more intense detail, and the option to choose between ten million colors. The range of 3D print colors includes a full spectrum of eye-popping hues, achieved by using color profiles with specific data for characterization. High Definition Full Color allows for good pre-visualization of models, exact color matches, along with incredible shading and contrast that previously were not possible without meticulous hand-painting.

Amazing shading and contrast options are available for applying color and design details. Most designers choose High Definition Full Color when seeking fine detail with expanded gradients and textures. Designers can use 3D models with thinner walls for more complex designs, even at a minimum of 1 mm, which amounts to the thickness of a plastic credit card.

For High Definition Full Color, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

Bounding Box Min

2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 mm

Bounding Box Max

495 x 495 x 300 mm

Full-color models produced with High Definition Full Color are available in standard and matte finish. Some staircasing may be noticeable in hard light conditions. Final parts can be coated, and hardware like screws can easily be attached.  

Find out more about High Definition Full Color 3D design guidelines here.

Mimaki 3D Printing

For over 25 years, Mimaki has specialized in full color inkjet printing. They hold numerous patents, maintain a large presence in signage and graphics, industrial printing, and textile printing. In 2017, the Japanese company entered the 3D printing industry with great momentum–and so far, no one else has come even close to offering such exciting, and vast, options in color.

Josh Hope, Senior Manager for Digital Imaging and Innovation at Mimaki, has worked with Shapeways closely and is clear about what makes full-color 3D printing with Mimaki so different:

“We’re coming at it from a very different perspective, and that perspective is that we have many many years of experience in how to reproduce color accurately, how to manage that color, and how to provide a workflow that allows for the most accurate reproduction of color possible.”

Shapeways High Definition Full Color prints are manufactured on the high-production Mimaki 3DUJ-553, featuring a build size of 508 x 508 x 305 mm. While other color printers offer a variety of benefits, the industrial-grade 3DUJ-553 is founded on Material Jetting (MJ) technology, employing eight unique piezoelectric print heads. Converting mechanical energy into electricity, the printheads deposit liquid photopolymer droplets to be cured with UV light. The eight printheads are capable of four different print modes, with seven different droplet sizes. Greater control drop size and drop placement means greater accuracy and resolution.

Speed and precision, along with the ability to produce robust colors and textures make MJ 3D printing uniquely powerful. While MJ 3D printing is popular with many Shapeways customers for rapid prototyping, this technology is paired with High Definition Full Color for functional models, products, and useful applications.

“Shapeways is known for their quality and consistency,” said Josh Hope, Senior Manager for Digital Imaging and Innovation at Mimaki. “Our expertise in 2D color printing allowed us to approach the 3D printing world differently by starting with color. Offering High Definition Full Color to the customer base of Shapeways made sense because it can be used in so many ways.”

Color 3D printing

3D Printing Applications for High Definition Full Color

With the capability to present minute details accurately, customers choose High Definition Full Color for the following applications:

  • 3D printed tabletop gaming figurines – High Definition Full Color is famous for 3D printed miniatures featuring incredibly realistic details. Unlimited customization is available for creating gaming characters with skin tones, facial hair, and details like feathers on animal figurines. Gamers have a tendency to be serious about the characters in their games, and throw themselves into the opportunity to bring them to life. With High Definition Full Color and 3D printing they can collect remarkable, personalized figurines and statuettes of their own design, manipulating texture, color contrast, and gradations.
  • 3D medical models – 3D printed medical models can be extremely helpful to the medical profession, but more so to the individuals receiving patient-specific treatment as 2D data like MRIs or CTs are converted to 3D data. These realistic representations are used for surgeons to diagnose and treat conditions, and then navigate the ensuing medical procedure by using the 3D printed medical model to train. In fact, a surgeon may work with a corresponding 3D printed medical model for weeks before performing a surgery. It may also be used as a guide in the operating room or to train medical students. Further, 3D printed medical models are used as visual aids for patients and their families.
  • 3D printed architectural models – Architecture is another popular application for use with High Definition Full Color, allowing clients to see every tiny detail of a new home or office, or envision large endeavors like luxury hotels on the verge of construction. 3D printed architectural models can be made on the large scale, representing entire city blocks and including every conceivable detail in miniature like landscaping and infrastructure. Customized, tangible models in robust colors may help land that new client after an impressive presentation–but they also encourage better communication and customer feedback—all leading to an acceleration in final project production.

Part of the allure and intrinsic magic of 3D printing is that creativity can take infinite, perpetually customizable forms. Those endless possibilities can also make it challenging to choose the best avenue for additive manufacturing

Built on years of experience and integration of features based on designer feedback, Shapeways provides a streamlined process for customers, making AM processes easier and more successful–every step of the way. This includes printability analysis to ensure that materials and technology are compatible with sophisticated geometries. If you are wondering how to color 3D prints, it is critical to understand what is available, and how that matches with your project requirements.

About Shapeways

Enjoy the benefits of this advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways additive manufacturing solutions, and get instant quotes here.