The demand for customized products is on a rise. As such, there is a great need for methods to efficiently satisfy this need for customization. Rapid prototyping, also known as 3D printing, is a technology that enables economic production of customized low volume products and enables expedited product development cycles. Given the importance of color as a means to differentiate products generated through 3D printing processes, accurate color reproduction is essential for broad market acceptance. Color reproduction in 2D document printing is itself a complex science; achieving similar results in 3D printing will require significant research. This research work explores the various factors that affect accurate color reproduction in rapid prototyping. More specifically, it studies the effect of process parameters and post-processing techniques on the color reproduction achieved in powder based layer deposition process with a selective binder delivery enabled by an ink-jet print head. A systematic study of a subset of these factors was conducted using a ZCorp Z510 3D printer. The process parameters that were included in the study were color, hue, coverage, layer thickness, and binder saturation. The post-processing technique focused on the use of an infiltrant, which is commonly used to increase the mechanical strength of the printed 3D structure. The response variables of interest for this study included color response, gloss and mechanical strength. A full factorial experiment was designed in order to characterize the effect. Gloss, which contributes to the visual perception, was studied as a qualitative response. Of particular interest was the effect of process parameters and the type of post processing on the tensile strength of the specimen to identify trade-offs between quality of color reproduction and the mechanical strength required for structural integrity. Analysis of the experimental data indicates that the standard process settings, on average, generate samples that have greater color lightness and lower chroma, representing an opportunity for improvement. In addition, layer thickness was found to have a significant effect on the tensile strength as well. The process of infiltration improved both the color reproduction and mechanical properties of the 3D printed samples. The choice of infiltrant did not have a significant effect on the color reproduction but had a significant effect on the tensile strength of the part. In this research, the effect of layer thickness on color reproduction in ink jet based 3D printing has been studied for the first time. Also, adding to the body of current research, the interaction effects of the various factors have been studied. The research intends to serve as a platform to enable color scientists to collaborate with rapid prototyping experts towards achieving full selective color throughout 3D printing in the future.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Three-dimensional printing--Quality control; Color printing--Quality control; Colorimetry

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Esterman, Marcos


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TS155.6 .G64 2012


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