What is the best full-color 3D printer?

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 also 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

BrandProductBuild sizeCountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
ComeTrueT10 200 × 160 × 150 mm$ 30,000Quote
XYZprintingPartPro350 xBC 350 × 222 × 200 mmTaiwan$ 30,000Quote
Mimaki3DUJ-2207 203 × 203 × 76 mmJapan$ 39,000Quote
StratasysJ55 Prime $ 99,000Quote
Mimaki3DUJ-553 508 × 508 × 305 mmJapan$ 230,000Quote
3D Systems
This brand is a certified partner from our network.
ProJet CJP 660Pro 254 × 381 × 203 mmUnited States upon requestQuote

The products in the table are ranked by price (low to high).

TITRE:
BrandProductTechnologyBuild sizeCountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
ComeTrueT10Binder Jetting200 × 160 × 150 mm$ 30,000Get a quote
XYZprintingPartPro350 xBCBinder Jetting350 × 222 × 200 mmTaiwan$ 30,000Get a quote
Mimaki3DUJ-2207Material Jetting203 × 203 × 76 mmJapan$ 39,000Get a quote
StratasysJ55 PrimeMaterial Jetting$ 99,000Get a quote
Mimaki3DUJ-553Material Jetting508 × 508 × 305 mmJapan$ 230,000Get a quote
3D Systems
This brand is a certified partner from our network.
ProJet CJP 660Pro Binder Jetting254 × 381 × 203 mmUnited States upon requestGet a quote

Overview of the best full-color 3D printers in 2022

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.

T10

CountryTaiwan
Build size200 × 160 × 150 mm
TechnologyBinder Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 30,000

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.

http://XYZPrinting%20PartPro350%20xBC
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryTaiwan
Build size350 × 222 × 200 mm
TechnologyBinder Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 30,000

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.

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
By Mimaki
CountryJapan
Build size203 × 203 × 76 mm
TechnologyMaterial Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 39,000

The 3DUJ-2207 is an affordable full color 3D printer produced by Mimaki. Mimaki is a 3D printer manufacturer based in Japan. This 3D printer offers a build volume of 203 x 203 x 76 mm.

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryUnited States
Build size
TechnologyMaterial Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 99,000

The Stratasys J55 Prime is a full-color 3D printer for professionals. Stratasys is a worldwide 3D printer manufacturer based in the United States.

This color 3D printer can print over 1,900 PANTONE colors.

http://Mimaki%203DUJ-553
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
By Mimaki
CountryJapan
Build size508 × 508 × 305 mm
TechnologyMaterial Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 230,000

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.

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
By 3D Systems
This brand is a certified partner from our network.
CountryUnited States
Build size254 × 381 × 203 mm
TechnologyBinder Jetting
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
upon request

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.

Other full-color 3D printers

Below are a few mentions of products that are unavailable, discontinued, or suspicious.

M3D Crane Quad

The Crane Quad is a $999 desktop 3D printer that is advertised by M3D as capable of printing full-color objects with its four-in-one-out extruder. However, it has been brought to our attention that some users have never received the machine, while many others have encountered serious issues with it. A recap of user complaints and types of issues can be found in this BBB report. We don’t recommend this company.

Mcor ARKePro

Mcor debuted with the Mcor IRIS and Matrix 300+ and then launched the Mcor ARKePro full-color desktop 3D printers for professionals (an updated version of the original Mcor ARKe). The ARKe used Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) technology, which consists of depositing colored ink on sheets of paper. Mcor is no longer active.

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 at 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.

With SimplyColor3D software, it’s also possible to program filament color changes. The software also allows users to paint 3D models and allows for less material waste during purge transitions.

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.