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The 9 best full-color 3D printers in 2018

What is the best full-color 3D printer in 2018?

Often, when people are curious about 3D printing, they ask, “can 3D printers replicate any object?”. The answer is a little tricky! Yes, theoretically a 3D printer can replicate most objects, and can even 3D print figurines of body-scanned people. One of the main issues with 3D printing, though, has been colors.

It’s complex to 3D print in full, photorealistic color, and there are less than ten 3D printer manufacturers that achieve this. Until recently, full-color 3D printing was exclusive to expensive industrial additive manufacturing systems from brands such as Stratasys or 3D Systems. Today, more affordable (under $10K) desktop full-color 3D printers exist.

What is full-color 3D printing?

Full-color 3D printers are able to create objects with photorealistic color. To do so, the 3D printer must be able to mix different filaments or inks together to obtain precise shades and gradients, similar to regular 2D paper printers. This is also known as indirect color 3D printing, as the color is applied to the base material (the base material isn’t pre-colored before 3D printing).

Full-color 3D printing vs. multicolor 3D printing

In the 3D printing industry, the term “multicolor” is sometimes used as a synonym for full-color. However, for clarity in this article, we will only refer to multicolor for 3D printers and accessories that are able to 3D print a few colors (e.g.: 2-color 3D printers, 3-color 3D printers, Prusa multi-material add-on, Mosaic Palette, etc.). This type of 3D printing is also called direct color 3D printing, as the filament already has a specific color before being 3D printed.

Examples of full-color 3D prints vs. multicolor 3D prints

Examples of full-color 3D prints (left) and multicolor 3D prints (right).

The best full-color 3D printers

Full color 3D printerBuild volume in mmTechnologyTypeCountryPrice*
3D Systems ProJet CJP 660Pro254 x 381 x 203Binder JettingIndustrialUS$50K - $100K
ComeTrue T10200 x 160 x 150Binder JettingDesktopTaiwan$10K - $50K
HP Jet Fusion 580190 x 332 x 248PowderIndustrialUS> $50K
M3D Crane Quad214 x 214 x 230ExtrusionDesktopUS$549
Mcor ARKe184 x 168 x 125LaminationDesktopUS$17,995
Mimaki 3DUJ-553508 x 508 x 305Material JettingIndustrialJapan> $250K
Stratasys J735350 x 350 x 200Material JettingIndustrialUS> $250K
XYZPrinting Da Vinci Color200 x 200 x 150ExtrusionDesktopTaiwan$3,499
XYZPrinting PartPro350 xBC350 x 222 x 200Binder JettingIndustrialTaiwan$30,000
The above table is a comprehensive overview of full-color 3D printers available on the market. They are listed in alphabetical order.

*Price: manufacturer's suggested retail price or price range. These can vary over time and/or from one country to another (import fees, taxes, etc.).

Overview of the best full-color 3D printers in 2018

Desktop color 3D printers

The XYZPrinting Da Vinci Color is one of the best desktop full-color 3D printers.

XYZPrinting Da Vinci Color

  • Technology: Extrusion
  • Build volume: 200 x 200 x 150 mm
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Price: $3,499 (see on Amazon)
The Da Vinci Color uses 3DColorJet technology (extrusion) to 3D print full-color objects. The base material is white XYZPrinting PLA which the 3D printer colors layer by layer with a special CMYK inkjet cartridge. In order to avoid wasting ink, the XYZPrinting Da Vinci Color only colors outer, visible layers. XYZPrinting also manufactures the Da Vinci Color mini ($1,599).

Full specs: XYZPrinting Da Vinci Color

The ComeTrue T10 is one of the best full-color desktop 3D printers.

ComeTrue T10

  • Technology: Binder Jetting
  • Build volume: 200 x 160 x 150 mm
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Price: around $30K
The ComeTrue T10 full-color 3D printer uses sandstone– a neutral, plaster-like powder– as its base material. This material is solidified and colored with ComeTrue’s proprietary liquid binding agent. Then, users must insert the parts into a dry vacuum unit (available separately) to manually remove excess powder with an airbrush. The final steps involve covering the part in a liquid infiltrant for it to harden and then leaving the part to dry.

Full specs: ComeTrue T10

The M3D Crane Quad is a full-color extrusion 3D printer.

M3D Crane Quad

  • Technology: Extrusion
  • Build volume: 214 x 214 x 230 mm
  • Country: US
  • Price: $549
This color 3D printer boasts a QuadFusion print head which is basically a four-in-one-out extruder. The extruder mixes four filaments together (CMYK), enabling the M3D Crane Quad to produce over 50,000 colors. However, as the nozzle must purge for each change of color, it isn’t ideal (in terms of time and material waste) for 3D prints with more than a few colors. We’ve included the M3D Crane Quad in our list, although it sits somewhere between full-color and multicolor.

Full specs: M3D Crane Quad

The Mcor ARKe is one of the best full-color desktop 3D printers (sheet lamination).

Mcor ARKe

  • Technology: Lamination
  • Build volume: 184 x 168 x 125 mm
  • Country: US
  • Price: $17,995
Mcor is a popular full-color 3D printer manufacturer from Ireland. They debuted with the Mcor IRIS and Matrix 300+ industrial 3D printers, and currently manufacture the Mcor ARKe full-color desktop 3D printers for professionals. The ARKe uses Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) technology, which consists in depositing colored ink on sheets of paper. This paper is selectively cut according to the object’s shape.

Full specs: Mcor ARKe

Industrial color 3D printers

The 3D Systems ProJet CJP 660Pro is an industrial full-color 3D printer.

3D Systems ProJet CJP 660Pro

  • Technology: Binder Jetting
  • Build volume: 254 x 381 x 203 mm
  • Country: US
  • Price: $50K – $100K
This full-color sandstone 3D printer by 3D Systems produces high-quality parts. The ProJet CJP 660Pro deposits liquid color binding agent (proprietary VisiJet PXL) through its 1,520 jets in a process called ColorJet Printing. Different infiltrants are available from 3D Systems for varying color 3D printed part properties: ColorBond, StrengthMax, and Wax.

Full specs: 3D Systems ProJet CJP 660Pro

The HP Jet Fusion 580 is the best color 3D printer.

HP Jet Fusion 580

  • Technology: Binder Jetting
  • Build volume: 190 x 332 x 248 mm
  • Country: US
  • Price: > $50K
HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology consists of depositing different binding agents onto a plain base material. With these proprietary binding agents– or “Voxel Transforming Agents”– users may control not only color but also texture, translucency, density, and more. Up to eight different agents can be used in a single 3D print.

Full specs: HP Jet Fusion 580

The Mimaki 3DUJ-553 is one of the best color 3D printers.

Mimaki 3DUJ-553

  • Technology: Material Jetting
  • Build volume: 508 x 508 x 305 mm
  • Country: Japan
  • Price: > $250K
Mimaki is a professional inkjet printing solution manufacturer from Japan. The 3DUJ-553 is their first 3D printer, and it produces high-quality, photo-realistic 3D prints. To do so, its ink heads deposit a layer of colored ink, which the printheads then coat with UV-sensitive material to harden the layer with LED lighting. According to the manufacturer, this full-color 3D printer offers over 10 million colors.

Full specs: Mimaki 3DUJ-553

The Stratasys J735 is one of the best full-color 3D printers.

Stratasys J735

  • Technology: Material Jetting
  • Build volume: 350 x 350 x 200 mm
  • Country: US
  • Price: > $250K
The Stratasys J735 industrial full-color 3D printer is capable of 3D printing up to 6 different materials at a time. Thus, one 3D print can have both rigid and flexible sections. Over 500,000 colors are available, with or without transparency. One of the J735’s most notable characteristics is its ability to 3D print layers of 0.014 mm.

Full specs: Stratasys J735

The XYZPrinting PartPro350 xBC is one of the best full-color 3D printers.

XYZPrinting PartPro350 xBC

  • Technology: Binder Jetting
  • Build volume: 350 x 222 x 200 mm
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Price: $30K
Targeting professionals such as architects and designers, the PartPro350 xBC 3D prints, colors, and cures materials all at once. This full-color 3D printer features a removable build tray, enabling users to quickly launch a new print job before taking out freshly 3D printed parts from the previous tray.

Full specs: XYZPrinting PartPro350 xBC




Full-color 3D printers: special mentions

SOMETHING 3D Chameleon

This 3D printer was announced by Israel-based SOMETHING 3D (ST3D) in 2017. The Chameleon mixes five colors together (WCMYK) to create full-color 3D prints.

ORD Solutions RoVa4D full-color Blender

The RoVa4D full-color Blender is another filament-mixing 3D printer. Canadian company ORD Solutions launched this full-color desktop 3D printer on Kickstarter in 2016, but there has been very little news about its availability since then.

Apple full-color 3D printer

There were rumors of the tech giant developing a full-color desktop 3D printer. Apple filed a patent in 2015, which was approved at the beginning of 2018. However, the project appears to be on standby as no official Apple announcements regarding 3D printing have been made.

Ilios Ray

Ilios was a 3D printer manufacturer from Cyprus that closed its doors in late 2016. Their Ilios Ray resin 3D printer was claimed to mix colors with different resin cartridges.

SKY-TECH 3DPandoras

Launched on Kickstarter in 2014, this full-color powder 3D printer was well-received by the community– at first. Since then, its backers have largely denounced this product as a scam.

Multicolor 3D printing: alternatives to full-color 3D printing

As mentioned towards the beginning of the article, multi-color 3D printing is different from full-color 3D printing. Multi-filament 3D printers, such as dual extruder 3D printers, are able to 3D print different colors at the same time. These multi-nozzle 3D printers can be considered multi-color, but not full-color.

Accessories such as the Mosaic Palette or the Prusa multi-material add-on also allow for multicolor 3D printing with simple single-extruder 3D printers. They enable users to 3D print with up to four or five colors.

Another solution is post-processing. Germany-based DyeMansion provides full-color post-processing solutions (“DyeMansion RAL color palette”) for powder-based 3D printed parts.

See our post on multicolor 3D printers and multi-filament accessories for more information.

A multicolor 3D printed Benchy.

A multicolor Benchy 3D printed with the Mosaic Palette 2.
Source: Mosaic

Benefits of full-color 3D printing and applications

Full-color 3D printers allow users to obtain photorealistic 3D models with limited post-processing required. This is useful for rapid prototyping as well as for the manufacturing of end-use products:

  • Realistic prototypes (e.g. packaging, architecture models)
  • Customized consumer products (e.g. phone cases, figurines, toys)
  • Educational items (e.g. medical models)

Full-color 3D printing service

Full-color 3D printers are quite expensive and they require users to have at least some 3D printing knowledge. If users only need to 3D print a few parts a year, then ordering online service bureaus can be more cost-effective. Here’s a list of a few trusted online full-color 3D printing services:

How much does a full-color 3D printer cost?

The price of a full-color 3D printer can range from $550 to over $250,000. It depends on the type of 3D printing technology that the 3D printer uses. Full-color extrusion 3D printers cost less, while complex binder jetting and material jetting are the most expensive.

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