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Painting 3D models for multicolor 3D printing

SimplyColor3D is a cloud-based software for painting 3D models. It allows the user to convert single body 3D models, like the STL files found on Thingiverse, into multicolor versions of the same 3D model. This slicing software also enables users to waste less filament during color transition purges.

SimplyColor3D, a useful addition to your maker toolbox

Most makers and 3D printer users have access to multiple software applications to prepare their models for 3D printing. Some slicers work better than others, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, Simplify3D offers excellent project management. The software allows you to lay out many different models on your print bed and is even capable of using different layer heights or settings for a same print.

Meshmixer doesn’t have this advanced print bed layout functionality, but it can be used to easily merge separate 3D models into a single 3D model. Is also sports sophisticated tree supports, using much less material and being much quicker to print than traditional supports.

On the other hand, Blender is commonly used by makers to design 3D models from scratch or to modify existing 3D model meshes.

There are many more examples of slicing programs that satisfy specific needs. If you want to start painting 3D models and slicing them for extrusion 3D printing, you may certainly want to look at SimplyColor3D. The 3D model painting software also provides a retractable color purging mechanism.

Painting 3D models with SimplyColor3D

SimplyColor3D is an easy-to-use software slicer for painting 3D models and for efficient transition purges. To give you an idea of how it works, here are the main steps you need to go from a mono-color 3D model to a multi-color 3D model.

1. Load your 3D model (.OBJ format) to the web-based SimplyColor3D program

2. Select your paint brush color from the pallet or enter your own RGB values


3. Apply color to your model by painting with your mouse

Painting a 3D model

4. Switch colors as needed thanks to the color picker

Selecting color on SimplyColor3D

5. Enter your email address and click Slice

Painting 3D models

6. Retrieve your Gcode file and filament loading instructions from your email inbox

Multicolor 3D printing: transition purges

Multicolor FDM 3D printing will always require transition purges between different colors. That’s because the 3D printer melts the plastic filament and pushes it through its nozzle.

Hence, when you change colors, the nozzle contains the previous color. Some of the filament is stuck to the inside of the nozzle, meaning that the next color will need to push the previous color out. The purge results in a color mix of the previous filament and the filament you’re replacing it with. This is called transition purge.

This is what a 3D color transition purge looks like.

The purge itself is usually done in a separate block on the print bed in order to keep the 3D model clean. This block takes up space and uses extra filament material. Indeed, the block must be built up to maintain the same height as the print.

SimplyColor3D: transition purges with less material

In addition to painting 3D models, SimplyColor 3D offers the ability to save material when it comes to color purging. You can 3D print SimplyColor3D’s retractable purge mechanism and add it to your 3D printer.

Software to paint 3D models

That way, instead of creating cumbersome purge blocks, the 3D printer prints purge blobs. These blobs fall into a small box at the base of your 3D printer. You can also recycle the purge blobs and make new filament if you have your own filament extruder.

Note: If you’re looking to print photorealistic 3D models, take a look at our guide on full-color 3D printing.

About this author

Greg Stuart

Greg is part of the BigBrain3D team behind SimplyColor3D, a 3D model painting and slicing software.