What Colors Can I Expect on My Multicolor Print?

Multicolor is a material that enables you to print up to 16.7 million different colors. A ColorJet printer builds up your multicolor model, layer by layer, from bottom to top. A roller puts a thin layer of fine granular powder on a platform and a print head places tiny drops of glue at specific locations, printing a thin layer of your model. The platform lowers and the roller spreads another layer of powder. The coloring is done by combining four different pre-colored types of glue to match the requested color.

Because the color you see on your screen can differ slightly from the printer’s colors, a short physics lesson on colors will help you get the best possible color on your print.

A pixel on your screen is composed of Red, Green, and Blue (RGB), while ColorJet printers use Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). Since your screen and our printers don't use the same color system, the set of colors might shift slightly:

In both CMYK and RGB, mixing these basic colors leads to new color options.

CMYK works pretty much like the box of paints you used back in school. If you don’t have the painting color you’re looking for, you need to mix two existing colors together. Adding colors together usually, means that the new color will be slightly darker. That’s why this system is called a ‘subtractive color model’. It will lead to a somewhat darker color. Adding all colors together produces black.

Screens, however, do not work like our box of paints. Instead of using paint or ink, they use light. The colors of light are red, blue, and green (RBG). When the colors are added together, the result gets brighter. When all three colors overlap, the color becomes white. That’s why this system is called an ‘additive color model’.

When colors are converted from RGB to CMYK, the color intensity changes a bit. So, what you see on your screen and what comes out of the printer might look slightly different.

Bright colors on a screen tend to look duller and darker in CMYK. Generally, the brighter, more vivid and vibrant the colors on your screen are, the bigger the difference between your 3D model and your 3D print will be.

Another problem is that computer screens have adjustable settings – so things like brightness, gamma and color temperature can make a huge difference. Monitors also can vary greatly in color accuracy, depending on the technology (TN, PVA, IPS, OLED) and the calibration setting.

In most cases, the color difference is not huge but if you need a really precise color that must not change even slightly – let’s say for a 3D model that features skin color – you might want to order a smaller test print first and experiment a little to get the color exactly the way you want it.

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