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According to kickstarter.com
M3D, the leading name in consumer 3D printing, is proud to announce The QuadFusion Print Head, our first direct drive four-filament mixing extruder. This revolutionary new print head allows you to mix both materials and colors, making it possible to print in a full-color palette when you use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key) filaments.
Multi-Color & Multi-Material 3D Printing
Until now, full-color palette 3D printing has been the ultimate dream for 3D enthusiasts. Some commercial products have been introduced in recent years, but they come with limitations and a high price tag. Few options exist under the $3000 price point. A few multi-filament extruders and advanced add-ons are on the market but they are are limited, for example by mixing just two or three filaments, printing only in PLA, or relying on multiple independent nozzles. The QuadFusion is the first four-filament mixing extruder available on the consumer market.
Combining Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key (CMYK) filaments allows you to print over 50,000 unique colors. The key filaments can either be Black, White, or Transparent. Using white creates different tints which lighten a color, using black creates shades which darken a color, and using clear adds a degree of transparency and depth.
This vase was printed using Red, Blue, Transparent and Black filaments. Technically, there are over 150 different colors within this vase, with a slightly different color on every single layer.
With the QuadFusion you can also print with any four compatible filament materials. To be compatible, they should have a similar melting point temperature. This allows you to easily change between materials within your print, or to blend materials together in as many ways as you can imagine. This allows prints to vary in strength, flexibility, and rigidity from one area of the print to another. This allows you to fabricate things in a whole new way, you no longer need to think of your final product as a collection of separate parts to be made out of different materials, but rather it can be one 3D printed part made out of a combination of different materials.
A great benefit to both color and material mixing, is that you can get more out of less. Since you can combine colors and materials, you don’t need to keep as many different colors and materials in stock. Additionally, there is no need to worry about painting or post-processing, you just grab your print off the printbed and go.
Our New Filaments
You can use any standard 1.75mm filament in the QuadFusion Print Head, however if the colors aren’t optimized for color mixing, you may not get a high quality color result, for example if you want to use a key like Black, you need to use a calibrated black because typical black filaments are loaded with carbon pigments which have a very wide particle size and distribution, so what would normally happen is you’re trying to change from black to yellow for example, and you’re going to have to expunge 200mm of filament to get a clear switch between the two, which is a very large waste pillar, and even then you still may have residual specks of black show up in your print.
To solve this problem we developed a few lines of filament that would be ideal for color mixing. To do this we calibrated the pigment size and molecular distribution so that it falls within a narrow range, giving you the ability to get controlled mixing ratios, which results in a wider and more pure color palette. The recommended starting material is based primarily on PETG, which comes in two series: ABS-R3 provides opaque material ABSR provides transparent colors and keys. We also offer an opaque PLA line, as well as an opaque Tough 115A line.
We wanted to make the QuadFusion available to as many people as we could, which is why we wanted to make it compatible with a wide range of 3D printers on the market, not just our own. We are going to make a variety of 3D printable mounting plate files available for download to help users get the head mounted as seamlessly as possible. Currently, we have verified mounts for the following 3D printers: MakerBot Replicator 2X, M3D Crane, M3D Promega, and the Prusa i3 MK2. The full list of mounting head files will be based on backer demand, we will conduct a survey towards the end of the campaign.
Software, Firmware & Electronics
Common tools for creating and preparing jobs for 3D printing are at a crucial turning point for full color printing support. We are seeing many of these products implementing features allowing basic multi-material and mixing extrusion, but each appears to be approaching the problem in its own manner. With color printing hardware in the hands of many users, we expect to grow the standards and product development in this area.
To date, our development work in color and multi-material printing has mainly focused on the abilities surrounding the STL file format and slicing using open source tools such as Cura, Slic3r and Repetier-Host. With a mix of handiwork and post-processing, these tools generate G-Code suitable for use with the QuadFusion. We’ve also been working with a community formed around other M3D products and third party printers, allowing us to demonstrate mixing and gradient extrusion.
This team has published slicer post-processing plugins that greatly enhance their capabilities in this regard. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Newer file formats (e.g. AMF) hold a lot of promise for streamlining the process of concept through advanced manufacture, and standard features may emerge that we see integrated into most (if not all) slicers. We look forward to continuing our work with the community and contributing our results to the world, available from our public GitHub.
We are also planning to host a hackathon this summer, we will post an update with more details as they develop.
The QuadFusion Print Head works in conjunction with the Duet 2 Maestro board, upgraded with M3D’s Extruder Expansion Board, or any other control board that can control 4 extruder motors. We recommend dc42’s RepRapFirmware for the Duet 2 Maestro — this open source firmware is under active development with binary images available alongside the project’s source code. You can buy the Duet 2 Maestro Board here, or it will also be an add-on later in this campaign.
Filament Printing Temperature – The Quad 3D Print Head is capable of printing any 1.75mm filament with a printing temp of 255°C or below.
Nozzle – It comes with a 0.35mm nozzle standard, and you can purchase 0.5mm, 0.75mm & 1.0mm nozzles as an add-on.
Dimensions – 80 x 80 x 85 mm.
Motor – The Quad 3D Print Head uses four bipolar stepper motors running at a standard current of 525mA at up to 24V.
Filament Crush Distance Control – The Quad 3D Print Head uses fixed dimension idlers, but allows idler replacement for crush distance adjustment. The default idler configuration is meant to accommodate “rigid” filaments such as PLA and PETG.
Cooling – The Quad 3D Print Head offers numerous attachment points for motor cooling, cold section and/or part cooling fans. The Quad 3D Print Head includes one cold section/motor cooling fan and two nozzle/part cooling fans.
Bed Sensing – In addition to their usefulness in attaching cooling fans, the attachment points of the Quad 3D Print Head allow for installation of bed sensors such as IR or inductive probes.
Why We Need Your Support
The technology behind the QuadFusion Print Head isn’t new to us, it is a new construct of an old idea – taking two filament paths and merging them into one, or “compounding”, which we originally developed for the Promega 3D Printer. With the compound nozzle, we established that we could create a pretty narrow color palette by combining two different colors to make about 100 different colors, but 100 is fairly limited, so we wanted to create a wider color palette, using CMYK filaments to create more than 50,000 colors. Hence, the QuadFusion was born.
We wanted to bring this project to Kickstarter because the community here is a very unique one that appreciates innovation, especially innovation in 3D printing, and now that many of you in the community own 3D printers, the QuadFusion is the next natural step to enhance your 3D printing experience and create more complicated and diverse products.
The main reason we need your support is because we want to hone the ecosystem to help bring color 3D printing to everyone. Up until now, there hasn’t been a full color palette 3D Print Head available for anyone to use as a starting point to really develop firmware or refine the electronic systems. We recommend the Duet 2 Maestro because it gives you the native ability to do mixing in the firmware and it also gives you the ability to expand to a 4 extruder print head. However, we’d also like to join together people in the reprap and 3D printing communities to help us fully develop the capability of full-color so that in a few years we can help make this technology more plug and play and available to a wider audience.
What Is Included
The head comes complete with 4 motors, 3 fans, fasteners, Cartridge thermistor, a 0.35 mm Quad Compound nozzle and Quad Compound PTFE insert.
We will be shipping rewards in four batches, see the chart below for more information:
We are planning to have several add-ons for this campaign which will include everything you need to get your QuadFusion printing: A Duet 2 Maestro and Extruder Expansion Board, a wire harness to connect the two control boards, a set screw pack of 2.5 & M3 set screws, an additional cartridge thermister, an additional heater, an additional heater block, additional fans, additional motors, additional nozzles, and our 4 mixing filament packs in PLA, ABS-R, ABS-R3 & Tough 115A.
The QuadFusion 3D Print Head gives you a lot more freedom of choice and flexibility than any other 3D printer before. In the past, if you wanted to print a lot of different colors you would have to buy a huge quantity of filament, now with just 6 major colors and keys you’d be able to produce any color on the fly, whether you just want one new color or if you want multiple colors within the same print. The same applies to multiple materials, the ability to take a flexible material and a hard material and merge them together to create a print with mixed properties throughout it is a huge advancement for the industry and is defining the next generation of 3D printers.
Please join us on our Discord channel to stay updated on the latest details!
A special THANK YOU goes out to Duet 3D, the Kickstarter community, and our hardworking team for making this project possible.
Patents pending. “M3D” “3D Ink” & “QuadFusion” are trademarks of M3D LLC in Fulton, MD. M3D is not affiliated with any other 3D printer company mentioned above.
Risks and challenges
There is a small risk of incomplete color mixing, we have been overcoming this risk by tweaking the nozzle size and insert as well as optimizing the mixing chamber. Another small risk is that the waste pillar, when you want to have a hard change between colors, will be too large, we are overcoming this risk by keeping the mix volume as small as possible. A medium risk is that there might be too much heat near the extruder gears, if we don’t get cooling in the right places or get heat out of the wrong places, it could lead to filament shaving or under extrusion, we are overcoming this by adding bigger fans and potentially adding some heat sinks. A larger risk is that there are different compression rates for different types of filaments, we are overcoming this by tweaking the idlers, and we may include different sized idlers for different types of materials. Finally, the last and largest risk is that color 3D printing may not be supported by 3d printing software. We are planning to overcome this by partnering with lots of industry names in the CAD and slicer communities to help develop and nurture this ecosystem as soon as possible.
As far as challenges, the two main challenges are developing 3D printable mounting plates to help users mount the QuadFusion onto their existing 3D printer. The 3d printed ones may not end up being stiff enough, in which case we will develop metal mounting plates. Lastly, the QuadFusion may be hard to maintain, the current design requires users to take it apart for maintenance, we are exploring ways to make maintenance easier to perform.
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