Matching Up Your Colors with the Pantone™ Color Library

Recently, the Stratasys J7 series began offering the Pantone™ color library on GrabCAD Print.

Operators, designers, and manufacturers can now choose Pantone colors straight from GrabCAD Print. This introduces Pantone, the gold standard of color for all industries, into 3D printing and enables color-critical decisions at every stage of the workflow.

The ability to use Pantone colors improves and simplifies color communication between designers, modelers, and manufacturers. For the first time in 3D printing history, you can define, communicate, and consistently produce the colors that you work with offline from the world’s most universal and established color language.

You can leverage this new feature to create one-click prototypes, models with skin tones, coatings, and any other design-realism need. This improves quality and reliability of prints, cutting time and cost.

  1. Step 1: Introduction & specs

    This tutorial will teach designers, modelers, manufacturers, and printer operators how to use the Pantone feature in the GrabCAD Print software. This feature is compatible with GrabCAD Print version 1.28 and above.

    ·        Applicable Printers: Stratasys J735-J750

    ·        Supported printing modes:  High Mix and High Quality

    ·        File types: CAD, STEP, STL, VRML (color per shell only)

    ·        Supported materials: Vero CMY Vivids + VeroPureWhite + VeroBlackPlus (load all 5 to enable the PANTONE tab).

    ·        Support materials: SUP705, SUP706B

    ·        The advanced slicer must be enabled (this will be the default starting GrabCAD Print version 1.34)

  2. Step 2: How to enable the Pantone color selection

    1)   Load the correct printing materials:

    ·        VeroPureWhite

    ·        VeroBlackPlus

    ·        VeroCyanV

    ·        VeroMagentaV

    ·        VeroYellowV

    ·        The sixth material can be any material you choose (for example, VeroClear™, Agilus30™ White).

    2)     In the File> Preferences dialog box, click PolyJet and select Enable advanced slicer.

  3. Step 3: Assign a Pantone color

    1)     Insert your part into GrabCAD Print.

    2)     Display the Print Settings dialog box and select PANTONE®.

    (If the PANTONE button is disabled, you need to enable the advanced slicer as described in step ‎2).

    3) From the Book drop-down list, select the Solid Coated or SkinTone guide to access the color library for regular models or for skin tones, respectively.

    4)     Or use the search box and enter the PANTONE Color value you wish to print.

    Alternatively, you can select from the list of colors or enter the equivalent Hex or RGB values

    for the color you want to print.

    Note: When entering an RGB value, write it inside parenthesis. For example (68, 161,210). You can also enter a HEX or Pantone number.

    A range of PANTONE Colors appear.

    GrabCAD Print indicates level of reliability for each color you select, using the indicators in the following table. 

    Determine the color variance based on the table provided.

    5)     Assign the selected Pantone colors to the part and print.

    With Pantone colors, the color of the model on the build tray in GrabCAD Print will be the actual color of the printed model.

  4. Step 4: Some other tips for working with Pantone

    1.      Check that you optimized file preparation, material usage settings, and color assignment. Check out these tutorials to get some guidance on optimization.

    2.      Pantone colors have been tested and validated for parts printed with a flat,glossy surface and a 1-mm color coating over a 4-mm white core made of VeroPureWhite. Other geometries and thickness might result in color differences.

    3.  Use the Pantone PMS Color Guides solid coated and skin tone. Make sure the Pantone guides are current and in good condition. Pantone recommends purchasing new guides annually, because the colors change over time.

    4.  Pantone colors printed in walls that are thinner than 3 mm might look different without a white layer below.

    5.  When printing the Pantone colors, GrabCAD Print uses the VeroVivid colors and a VeroPureWhite core, so transparency is not supported when using the Pantone feature. 

    6.  Avoid switching materials to prevent color contamination that might adversely affect color accuracy. If you switched materials, perform two material replacement cycles to flush the system thoroughly and achieve the intended color accuracy.

    7.  Printed colors may vary from the Pantone colors due to several factors, such as temperature, materials, printer maintenance and calibration. The degree of color matching between the Pantone color and the printed color is indicated in GrabCAD Print next to the Pantone color.

    8.  If the Pantone button is disabled on GrabCAD Print, make sure the supported model materials are loaded and that the Advanced Slicer is enabled.

    9.      Sometimes, this feature will not solve all your color needs. For example, if the color you want does not appear in the Pantone catalogue, or if you want to change just one color out of the few colors your model has. In cases such as these, follow the instructions in “Best Practices for Color Matching” on how to use the 3D Swatch Generator, print a 3D color swatch, and achieve better color matching by hard proofing.

    This diagram can give you an idea of when printing with Pantone can answer your color needs:

  5. Step 5: Post-Processing guidelines

    If you want to give your model a more shiny, finished look, you can do the following:

    ·        Wet-Sanding

     Wet-sand the model starting with 400-grit, then 600-grit, and finally 1000-grit sandpaper and rinsing between each sanding to remove residue, until the surface looks clear and has no scratches or lines. The model should look clear under running water when you are done.

    ·        Micro-Mesh-Sanding (Optional)

    For an exceptional finish, sand the model with 1500-grit micro-mesh sandpaper. You can continue sanding with 1800-grit, 2400-grit, 3600-grit and 4000-grit micro-mesh sandpaper, rinsing the model between each sanding to remove dust and residue.

    ·        Polishing and Buffing / Applying a Clear Coat

    Apply a polishing compound, such as 3M Plastic Polish, to a buffing wheel or a polishing tool. Work the polishing compound onto all surfaces of the model then buff off the compound with a soft cloth or clean buffing pad. Alternatively, apply a clear lacquer using spray.

    Have any questions or comments? Let us know below.