I use a FormLabs
Form 2 printer whenever I need detailed, high-quality, smooth prints. The results are fantastic, but recently I needed to change the color of some small parts. The parts were so small and finely-detailed that I wanted to avoid paint if possible. FormLabs sells a color kit where you can make a batch of resin into any color you want, but I didn't need or want to buy a whole separate batch of resin; I just needed to do a few small pieces. I decided to try dyeing the parts, and the results were fantastic.
I purchased some liquid Rit Dye
("Chocolate" color for synthetics in my case) from Amazon; it's intended to change the color of synthetic fabrics. Since synthetic fabrics are basically plastic, I figured it might work out okay to dye my 3D prints, which are also plastic. This kind of simpleminded reasoning was all I needed to give things a shot.
Testing consisted of simply filling a plastic cup part way with very hot (but not boiling) water. Then I poured in a small amount of the liquid dye; I didn't measure anything, but it was probably a couple of teaspoons.
Then I dropped in a test piece, which was a scrap base and support structure. I stirred it a few times over five minutes, then removed and rinsed it. The result is shown below on the right.
|Plain Grey FormLabs resin on the left. On the right is also Grey resin, but after five minutes of dyeing.|
The results were impressive! I was expecting only to get a rough idea of whether this might work, and what direction to go in next. Instead, it worked beautifully on the first try! The color was even and smooth.
I decided to do a production piece. Five minutes seemed plenty so I did four minutes. The results are below. On the left are regular prints, on the right are the dyed pieces.
|Left: undyed Grey FormLabs resin results. Right: results from four minutes in dye solution.|
I honestly hadn't expected the results to be so good and so easily done. There is more to be learned, but if you're looking to dye a small 3D print out of a FormLabs printer, it's awfully easy and fast to do so with the liquid Rit-Dye and some hot water. Probably this is feasible for other 3D prints and other resins; I haven't tested any, but the results here were so readily done that it certainly looks to be worth trying out.
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