Filament Painting: Extrude Full Color Images on a 3D Printer

3D Printing & Imaging Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Digital Fabrication
Filament Painting: Extrude Full Color Images on a 3D Printer
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3D printing is always surprising us with new and inventive ways of using the somewhat simple machines. In this case, it’s new software called HueForge that creates beautifully rendered 2D artwork using the very limited colors and materials allowed by 3D printing. You don’t even need to have a multicolor setup to do it! 

To understand what HueForge is and why it’s so neat, we first have to break down the limitations of 3D printers when it comes to making 2D art:

  • Filaments come in a limited range of colors, and you’re typically limited to only four of them even when using a fancy auto color changer
  • The nozzle is relatively large, usually 0.4 to 0.6mm which is huge compared to a pixel on your screen or on a page.
Example 3D-printed artwork showing how the layers are built up, starting from right to left. Photo courtesy of HueForge

HueForge overcomes these two big difficulties by utilizing the semi-transparent nature of very thin plastic to achieve color blending effects. Using only a few colors, this software will put down layers — darkest beneath, brightest/most translucent on top — building up various areas to get gradients and transitions that look stunning. If your printer isn’t equipped to do multicolor, you can still use HueForge to make incredible multicolor art — the machine will pause between each color, allowing you to manually swap filaments.

Frankly, it’s rare to see a piece of software that really expands on the capabilities of a 3D printer and I think HueForge has pulled that off.

This article appeared in Make: Volume 88.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at

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