When Do I Need 3D Color Printed Parts?

Posted by RE3DTECH Team on 9/20/21 9:42 AM

At RE3DTECH, we approach 3D printing a little differently than other 3D printing service bureaus. We’re intent on helping our customers leverage industrial 3D printing for production volumes, so naturally we view the potential for 3D color printing from the lens of production. 

Current 3D color printing technology has evolved in recent years, but it isn’t quite as advanced as other 3D printing capabilities. As a result, it may not be the best solution for production volume parts. That said, there are times when 3D color printing does make sense.

At RE3DTECH, we use our advanced post-processing capabilities to provide a color solution that delivers the quality and repeatability our customers are looking for

How to Get 3D Printed Parts in Color

Industrial 3D printing is set up for efficiency. While developments in 3D printing have allowed for greater and greater design freedom, there has been less emphasis on printing parts in color. Why? First, printing in multiple colors is not efficient at scale. While there is technology that can achieve this, it’s not yet as consistent as it needs to be for large volumes of parts.

Second, the market has less of a need for color 3D printed parts, especially at production levels. The primary focus is on the functionality of the part.

However, it is possible to achieve beautiful, vibrant 3D color printed parts. Here’s how we do it:

RE3DTECH’s Unique Approach to 3D Color Printing

Rather than applying color directly to parts during 3D printing, we 3D print parts that are white or gray, then dye them after they come off the printer. This process is similar to the process we use to dye parts black, but it can be performed with other colors as well. 

Through careful, controlled processes, we can produce 3D color printed parts that guarantee color matching and consistency. 

Tips for 3D Color Printed Parts

  • 5D27E437-4724-4869-B656-187879D5832A (1)Evaluate the need for color. This step is key. 3D color printed parts are more expensive and are best employed for prototypes or models. Many 3D parts can be post-processed to look great without the need for additional coloration. If you need production volumes of parts, going with gray or post-processed black parts is probably your best bet.
  • Design for a single color. Our approach of dyeing 3D printed parts after they come off the printer works with solid colored parts. Until 3D color printing technology itself evolves to become more consistent and reliable, we strongly recommend using solid colors when designing for 3D color printing.
  • Stick to bright colors. The more vibrant the color, the better your parts will look. Bright, vibrant hues of colors like red and blue are excellent options. 
  • Include a 3MF file. When conveying extremely specific colors, it’s important to use a reliable file format. STEP files may lose the correct color association during transmission to your 3D printing service bureau, but you can’t go wrong with a 3MF file.
  • Provide an RGB or HEX code. Customers often send us images of their logo and ask us to match the color, but visual color matching isn’t always as straightforward as you might think! Color codes such as RGB and HEX codes allow us to input accurate values into any software program and ensure that the end result matches the exact color you need.

3D Color Printed Parts vs Black or Gray 3D Printed Parts

It’s important to us that every part our customers print uses the right technology—and has the right business case—for their needs. Printing high-quality, consistent color parts is still a fairly expensive proposition. The technology for 3D printing in gray or even post-processed black parts is more streamlined and cost-effective. 

While printing in color might be a “nice to have,” the expense doesn’t always justify the investment. So if you need 3D color printed parts for your prototypes or models, RE3DTECH is here to help. If you’re interested in 3D color printed parts for production runs, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision—you might just be convinced otherwise when you see how good our black and gray parts look!

Don’t rely on just any 3D printing provider for your parts. Come to the experts at RE3DTECH and take advantage of our innovative approach to 3D printing for production. Request a quote today! 


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