When it comes to bringing 3D printing technology to the next stage of innovation, one of the key aspects that the industry has focused on is multi-material printing capabilities. Whether it be in the form of an industrial-level machine like the Stratasys J750 or a DIY project to transform a desktop 3D printer into a multi-material marvel, the truth remains the same; the future success of this industry is heavily dependent on the ability to produce objects in multiple colors and materials.
Now that multi-material printing is finally reaching the consumer-level market, who better to introduce it than Josef Průša, founder of Prusa Research, the Czech 3D printing startup that transformed the open-source RepRap 3D printer model into one of the most affordable and beloved desktop 3D printers in the world. His latest 3D printer iteration, the Prusa i3 MK2, is equipped with more innovative features than ever before, including a powerful heated bed, an upgraded frame, improved electronics, and a brand new Calibrate XYZ function. Now, Prusa has unveiled another upgrade that will transform the Original Prusa i3 MK2 into a multi-material 3D printer.
The new upgrade option allows Prusa users to print with up to four different materials or colors all at once. The additional components include four material feeders and just one hotend, making the unique solution calibration-free and much easier to use then other multi-material systems. The multi-material option is only available separate from the actual printer, but like all Prusa machines, the i3 MK2 is completely free to modify and upgrade. Key features of the new multi-material upgrade include perfect alignment during printing, zero calibration needs, no ooze shields, a similar build volume to the standard setup, a special multiplexing board, and a high-quality E3D hotend that is easy to assemble.
“Our approach to multi-material is extremely simple, but I had this idea in a drawer for a long time until I was 100% sure we can make the accompanying software easy enough,” said Průša. “Use of a single hotend with multiple filament drives will be the future of multi material FDM printer and I am happy we can push the envelope with it.”
The new multi-material upgrade is currently available for preorder; the two-material option costs $199 while the four-material option costs $249. The upgrade will be shipped out to customers at the end of November, and Prusa will be exhibiting the new component at a number of upcoming 3D printing conferences and events, including the TCT Show in Birmingham, Digical Show London, Maker Faire NYC, Open Hardware Summit in Portland, Print in 3D/ModelHobby in Prague, and Maker Faire Rome.
The i3 MK2 has already proven to be a hit for the Prusa team, which has grown three times as large since their latest 3D printer model was released five months ago. All in all, the new upgrade will give Prusa users an affordable and customizable option to enhance their open-source 3D printer. Instead of waiting for the right multi-material printer to come onto the market, Prusa i3 MK2 owners can simply transform the machine that they already have, know, and love.