Stratasys, one of the largest 3D printer manufacturers in the world, just went technicolor. The company has announced the Objet500 Connex3, the first 3D printer capable of printing both in full color and multiple materials.
The Connex3 will be available in the second quarter of 2014. It’s a professional printer, which means its $330,000 price tag will keep it more suited to prototyping and small-batch manufacturing by larger firms and out of the hands on individuals. Stratasys said in a release that a bike shop in Wisconsin, for example, is using the printer to prototype accessories like handlebar grips and bike chain guards.
The printer prints in full color by borrowing a technique from 2D inkjet printers: it blends cyan, magenta and yellow to create a broad range of colors. Stratasys has already spent years selling printers that can print in multiple materials, which lend 3D printed objects characteristics like flexibility, transparency and rigidity.
Stratasys already makes printers that are capable of building objects in multiple colors, but this is the first printer that actually blends colors to create a whole spectrum. This directly challenges 3D Systems, Stratasys’ main rival, which is generally the leader in the color 3D printing space. 3D Systems is best known for its professional color 3D printers, but it also just revealed mid-range color printers that print in plastic and sugar.