Applying colour and textures using KeyShot integration with GrabCAD on Stratasys J55 printer

Article by Stefan Bullock updated April 29, 2021


One of the most exciting features of the new line of Stratasys PolyJet printers is the ability to prepare, process, and print full-coloured and textured files in a few easy steps.

Learn more about the new J55 3D printer by reading TechTalk: Javelin’s Professional Services team impressed with Stratasys J55 3D printer for product development.

Full colour 3D printing directly off the printer is a recent development that has traditionally required an extensive amount of preprocessing across multiple software platforms and was a very manual and tedious process. The alternative method would be to print without colour and then hand finish and detailed paint, which is equally costly in time and manual labor.

Applying colour and texture using KeyShot

In this article, we will explore how easily we can adapt colours and textures to CAD models utilizing KeyShot rendering software. Let us look at the initial CAD preparation. Today we will be designing and printing a sample part that has multiple different patterns and textures applied. The CAD requirement here is not complex; it simply requires the CAD file to be split into separate bodies for each colour texture assignment.

For this model, we will be designing a small puck with a clear center that displays a company logo. As shown on the left side of the picture below, each body that is intended to be a different colour or material should be saved as separate solid bodies.

CAD file split into separate bodies for 3D printing

CAD file split into separate bodies for 3D printing

In order to apply the colour and texture wraps, we will need to import the CAD into KeyShot. Importation is easy and allows for various options depending on what is required. For our application we are reassembling our CAD bodies in KeyShot, so we will select the position setting to keep position relative to native origin (shown below), which allows us to keep the original coordinate system for each part.

KeyShot import settings

KeyShot import settings

After all the bodies are imported, we can begin the process of applying the desired colours and textures. On the scene tab, we can see all the bodies listed. In multi body applications like this, the hide/show feature allows us to easily work with assemblies with multiple bodies.

Scene tab in KeyShot to apply colours to file

The next step is to start applying a texture to our intended surface/body by selecting our material, then selecting the textures tab and applying our chosen texture to the “bump” parameter. Here we can modify the scale, placement and displacement of the texture being applied.

Material tab in KeyShot used to apply texture

Material tab in KeyShot used to apply texture

Now we can select the material graph to understand how our textures are interacting with our model, and also apply the displacement function onto the material graph. Select the displacement function at the top and connect the nodes from the texture to the geometry of the final surface. On the right side of the image below we will see the option to select our displacement value, which should not exceed 1mm/0.04in. Once parameters are finalized, hit execute node to alter the geometry of your part.

Displace Properties in KeyShot

Displace Properties

Now we can export as a 3MF file, from the menu, keeping the parameters as seen in the options below. This resultant 3MF file will give a geometry displaced file that can be processed and printed in GrabCAD print. From here, the bodies in the 3MF file can be assigned colours in GCP and printed as is!

Export 3MF file from KeyShot that can be processed and printed in GrabCAD Print

Export 3MF file that can be processed and printed in GrabCAD Print

Below is our exported 3MF file that is ready for print in GrabCAD Print. We can see that the original surface has been displaced by a specular pattern and has defaulted to a flat grey colour.

Exported 3mf file that is ready for print

Exported 3mf file that is ready for print

Let’s explore one step further, in wrapping a body in both texture and colour in KeyShot. Once we have exported the geometry displaced 3MF file, we can reimport that file into KeyShot to apply colour to the displaced surfaces. This can be easily done by selecting the body just as before and employing the “diffuse” option.

Applying colour to displaced surfaces

Applying colour to displaced surfaces

Here we will select colour gradient and adjust the parameters so our colours fade nicely across the model. The last step is to export the 3MF file while selecting “prefer textures” instead. This results in a coloured and textured file that can go into GCP and print directly!

Utilizing these features, we can take full advantage of the J55 3D printers capabilities for producing high resolution detailed models along with colour gradients to create much more realistic prototypes and end use parts!


Additive Professional Services Team

Javelin’s Additive Professional Services team provides Designers and Manufacturers with a variety of custom-tailored 3D printing services, including high-performance prototypes, tooling and manufacturing aids, end-use parts, and low-volume production runs.

By applying the latest additive manufacturing technology, our staff of highly-experienced specialists are capable of meeting the most stringent demands in terms of time, cost and precision in the creation of your part. No matter your requirements, we can provide you with the expertise and experience to navigate the 3D printing world.

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Stefan Bullock

Stefan is a Print Services Applications Specialist on Javelin's Additive Professional Services team.