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How Does Colorjet 3D Printing Work?

By July 27, 2017 No Comments

You’re interested in building a new home. You walk into the architect’s office. The receptionist asks you to wait a few minutes. You decide to check out the models displayed in the waiting area.

Then you start wondering how these models were made.

For years models were hand-made. It was an expensive, laborious process. Because of that, many people didn’t bother with 3D models. They relied on drawings or computer animations instead.

But that’s something 3D printing is changing. A 3D-printed model is less expensive and time-consuming to produce than a handmade one.

There was still an obstacle. At one time a 3D-printed model still needed to be hand-painted.

And then colorjet 3D printers came on the market.

When You Should Use a Colorjet 3D Printer

There are other ways to get colored 3D printed objects (for example, you could use colored plastic materials). But at this time it’s difficult to get multi-colored objects from this process.

Architects, engineers, and others who work with concept and architectural models like colorjet printing because they want realistic-looking, multi-color models that are more cost-effective than hand-crafted and -painted models.

The Tools Used


Our colored 3D printing projects start with a powder (like sandstone, which is a powdered gypsum). One benefit of powder materials? The excess is gathered after each print is completed and used again.


The fun starts when the printer adds the binder. Think of the binder as glue (because it basically is). It’s applied only as needed to build the layers. The binder also contains the color.

Colorjet 3D Printer

You need a 3D printer designed specifically for color. These printers have print heads where the different colors of binders can be loaded and a roller for spreading the powder on the platform. The platform, called the elevator, lowers as layers of powder and binder are added and your object takes shape.

The Process of 3D Printing in Color

  1. The roller spreads out a thin layer of powder.
  2. The print head deposits a layer of binder only where directed by the computer.
  3. The binder colors the powder and makes everything stick together.
  4. The elevator lowers the platform slightly.
  5. The roller spreads another thin layer of powder.
  6. This process continues until your object is complete.
  7. Excess powder is pulled out to be recycled.
  8. Any powder sticking to the object is removed with an air brush.
  9. An infiltrant is applied to seal the object and improve the color quality and durability.

Would Colorjet 3D Printing Work for You?

If “realistic-looking, multi-color models that are more cost-effective than hand-crafted and -painted models” sounds like something you need, check out our past color projects.