How to achieve a colored 3D-printed Orthoses.

Christabelle Asoluka
December 12, 2022
Blue colored MJF printed Ankle-foot-orthosis

We get many customers curious about how they can add colors to their 3D-printed devices to give them that extra feel of personalization,especially for younger patients. Clinicians find that these customization options such as color, can boost patient satisfaction and lead to higher compliance.

However, despite the glitz and glam of these colored 3D printed devices, it is not usually possible to obtain for every printing technology. In this article, we will help you understand how colors can be added for different printing techniques and which colors we at Spentys offer when you print with us.


L-R: Ultimaker FDM printer, HP MJF printer, Formlabs DLP printer

At Spentys, we offer you FDM and MJF printing options if you decide to have your devices printed with us. In addition to FDM and MJF printing options, you can also print with a DLP printer if you choose to print locally.

Checkout this guide to find out which printing method is best for different pathologies.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

Fused deposition modeling, or FDM for short, is a material extrusion method of additive manufacturing where materials are extruded through a nozzle and joined together to create 3D objects.

FDM printers can print in a single color, using colored filament, and in two colors, using a dual extruder.

 What material is best suited for orthotics using FDM?

The FDM printing material best suited for most orthotic fabrications is Polypropylene (PP). Polypropylene is one of the most valued plastic materials, as it combines low density, good mechanical properties, chemical resistance, stabilizability and is waterproof.  

 Colors available

At Spentys, we print PP in natural, black, and white to maximize efficiency. Other colors can be easily printed at your facility without affecting the mechanical properties of the devices.

Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)

Multi Jet Fusion is an industrial 3D printing process that produces functional nylon prototypes and end-use production parts in as fast as one day.  Final parts exhibit quality surface finishes, fine feature resolution, and more consistent mechanical properties than selective laser sintering processes.

The natural color of MJF printed parts with polyamide is a"raw" grey. The surface can be treated in different ways:

  • Smoothing with chemical (vapor smoothing) which produces a black color
  • Dyeing or coating with different colours.

The model is submerged in a bath containing color pigment to color polyamide. This dyeing process is also referred to as pigmentation or impregnating. This finish is available in Black (standard black and UV resistant Black). For the USA, we also offer it in colors, while in Europe withoffer coating. Surface coating is basically spraying the part to give it any color.


Materials best suited for P&O devices

PA11 is a bio-derived powder with exceptionally high toughness. This material has the particularity of offering high ductility and impact strength for all applications.

PA12 is a robust thermoplastic with excellent mechanical properties. It is also known as HP3D High Reusability PA 12, Polyamide, and Nylon 12.

TPU stands for 'Thermoplastic Polyurethane' and is often referred toas the bridge between rubbers and plastics.It is a flexible, abrasion-resistant thermoplastic.

Colors available

In Europe: Next to grey and black, Spentys offers PA11, and TPU printed in green, red, and blue.

In the USA: Next to grey and black, Spentys offers PA12 with a wide range of dark colors dyeing; green, red, blue, and much more.

However, in 2018, HP released a full color Nylon (PA12) MJF 3D printer. The 380 and 580 series offered the ability to print in eight agents. But these printers are no longer available on the market and were never retailed in Europe.

Digital light processing (DLP)

This is a type of vat polymerization. Vat polymerization 3D printing technologies use a (liquid)photopolymer resin that can cure (solidify) under a light source.

Materials best suited for P&O devices

ST45 can fulfill the requirements of functional applications regarding high accuracy and mechanical strength, where existing 3D printing materials often show limitations. This resin material delivers high power,long-term toughness, and good impact resistance.

The IND405 is a tough resin with impressive impact resistance and surface finish. It is a high strength material with impressive impact resistance and is comparable to an unfilled thermoplastic like polypropylene.

Colors available

These materials produce translucent colors, which pigment scan be added to if desired.


Get in touch with us to learn how to get started with in-house 3D printing.


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