By Arianna Coger, a reprint from

How Functional Color is Changing the Game in Additive Manufacturing,” was one a presentation given by HP Inc., at the recent Cimquest Xpand3D Design and Maufacturing Event that focused on the advancement of 3D printing methods to develop functional colored parts. The addition of color can help improve the clarity and accuracy of models as well as enable the easy production of parts that are ready for consumer usage. Common methods of adding color to prints often involve paint or filament changes, which are labor-intensive solutions, binder jetting, which cannot produce strong parts, or multiple extruders, which can have reduced precision.

The HP Multi Jet Fusion printers can be used to print colored parts with fully fused nylon as the material, providing high durability. This method of printing lets companies produce functional prototypes due to the enhanced mechanical properties of nylon, which can be used to accurately model intricate and small details for parts without breakage. HP MJF color printing can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from developing color-coded fixtures to anatomical models to customizable consumer goods. HP’s color 3D printing technology can help companies expand the capabilities of their prototyping, manufacturing, and marketing processes to achieve greater success.

The Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) presenters of “A More Colorful AM Future: HP’s Color MJF Parts with AMT’s PostPro Vapor Smoothing“ described the collaboration between HP Inc. and AMT to improve the color quality of 3D printed parts. Although the HP MJF printer can produce strong parts, without further processing they often have imperfections due to the rough, porous surfaces. These imperfections can also reduce the vibrance and quality of colored prints.

AMT’s PostPro chemical vapor smoothing technology can be used to dissolve and distribute partially fused particles in a controlled manner. This automatic processing reduces surface roughness and completely seals the surface of parts without changing the part dimensions. The technology can augment the mechanical properties of prints by improving the elongation at break, leading to higher quality products. The quality of color prints is also enhanced, with greater color saturation and colorfastness than prints that have not undergone processing. The combination of HP MJF printers and AMT’s PostPro system can help expand the usage of color in 3D printing. With this technology, a more colorful additive manufacturing future is sure to come.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Whether it is used for creating and testing prototypes or for final production, 3D printing is a great indicator that R&D Credit eligible activities are taking place. Companies implementing this technology at any point should consider taking advantage of R&D Tax Credits.

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • Must be technological in nature
  • Must be a component of the taxpayer’s business
  • Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process
  • Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include U.S. employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, U.S. contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Since 2016, the R&D credit has been used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for companies with revenue below $50MM and, startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll tax cash rebates.


Cimquest did an excellent job of getting the industry leaders together for one 3D printing event. It showcased what the industry is currently doing as well as forthcoming trends in the next few years. Our engineering team thoroughly enjoyed the virtual experience and is hoping for a live one soon.

For more information on HP color 3D printing, click below.

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