Rarely has a hobby been quite so fickle as 3D printing. Choosing the right machine at the right price point is hard enough, but then even printing itself can be a treacherous task. Things get stuck, or peel up if the temperature changes. Plus there’s loading and unloading the filament and dealing with clogged nozzles. 3D printing can be a bit of a challenge that’s really ready to test your patience, and that’s before you go into multi-coloured prints.
Once you’re confident enough with your printing technique you’re going to want to print some cool things to make it worth it. Probably something that’s more than one colour, but that adds heaps of complexity and time. Changing a colour mid-print usually requires the printer to complete a purge block to make the smooth colour transition. These take ages and waste heaps of 3D filament, especially if there’s a big difference between the colours.
When prints already take hours, or even days to complete, adding purge blocks here and there to transition colours can easily double that time. That’s why this Kickstarter promising a swappable nozzle attachment for your 3D printer looks like it could be a life saver.
The Swapper3D is an attachable mod that adds an automatic nozzle swapping to your existing FDM 3D printer. It’s being developed by BigBrain3D which has previously had successful Kickstarter campaigns around colour 3D printing software.
The unit can hold up to 25 nozzles ready to be quick swapped in during the printing process. They sit on a rotating disk and because each nozzle only has one colour of filament in it, eliminates the need for printing out useless and wasteful purge blocks. They can also hold different materials or sizes for more variations.
The project is still currently being backed, so if you want in on the early bird deals you can pre purchase a Swapper3D for $399 CAD (around $310 USD). That actually costs more than my 3D printer did so I’m unlikely the target market for this device. However, for anyone doing a decent amount of colour swapping printing it could save a lot of time, money, and waste.
If you’re looking for some cool printing projects, the CAD files for a Steam Deck shell are available. Or maybe you can donate your printing skills for good and get adaptable accessible controllers to people in need.