How to Make Multicolor Prints with an FDM 3D Printer

The best 3D printers, even inexpensive models like the  Creality Ender 3 Pro, are able to make highly detailed models, but most can only output in one color at a time. In this guide, we’re going to explore a few different ways you can print parts in multiple colors using an FDM 3D printer that only has a single nozzle. The three techniques we’ll explore are the ‘Pause and Swap’ method of swapping filament spools, printing objects in multiple pieces, and using rainbow filament to create parts with a satisfying color transition. You can also paint your model after printing, but that will be a whole other article.

If you’ve never prepared a model for 3D printing before, you can read about the process and get comfortable with customizing slicer settings by reading our guide on how to make your first 3D print. If you’re already comfortable with changing slicer settings like infill, print speed, and others, read on to learn how to create multicolor prints with a single-extruder FDM 3D printer.  

What You’ll Need 

  • 3D Printer: In this article, we’ll be using the Creality Ender 3 Pro FDM 3D printer,but just about any FDM 3D printer will do (SLA (aka resin) models are a different story).
  • Filament: PLA is an easy-to-use low cost material, and in this article we’ll be using PLA filament from Begonova, Eryone, and others. To create rainbow parts, we’ll be using the TTYT3D Rainbow PLA.
  • Slicer App: We’ll be using Ultimaker Cura to prepare files for the Creality Ender 3 Pro, but other slicer apps like PrusaSlicer and Simplify3D have a similar workflow. The settings should be similar, but they may be in different menus.

Getting the Software for Multicolor 3D Printing 

(Image credit: Tinkercad)

We’ll be using Tinkercad to create a multicolor part, but you can use any design program you already know. Tinkercad is available as a free in-browser program, and you can create an account by visiting their site.