Filament Colorizer - Marker Holder For 3mm filament

by cyclone, published

Filament Colorizer - Marker Holder For 3mm filament by cyclone Sep 20, 2011

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"Inspired from" Thing 5570. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5570

I threw this together a while ago and have used it a good bit. I kinda forgot about it because I now use mostly PLA and the marker thing doesn't work well on PLA. It works very well on ABS though.

This holds two standard Sharpie markers (i.e. "fine" not "ultra fine") and should clear a standard Cupcake's roof hole. I've no idea about the ToM but I expect it should work as well. I originally made a similar thing for one marker but it didn't color the filament very much resulting in very light coloring. Two markers actually tints the filament enough to be noticable. Three would be better, and it follows that 4 would be better-er. I suppose I could throw a three pronged one together. Might be a good exercise to make parametric in openSCAD. I think a holder that bristles with Sharpies might colorate stuff pretty good.

The image with the two parts shown is close to how it really looks. One is natural ABS the other is natural ABS colored with two black Sharpies. The final color is what I'd call a dark gray. The color is throughout the part and fairly even. Long prints you do notice the color getting lighter as the markers run out. After a six hour print the two sharpies were getting low. Most colors come out light to dark pastel colored.

I've done many turtles this way. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4178 The turtles shown are single blue marker, single green marker and the weird looking one is natural (clear) PLA with a single red marker, then a single blue marker. The red just made the PLA look over-cooked orange, the blue wasn't too bad but not as nice as the ABS.

Note: There is some solvent in the markers that allows the ink to soak into the ABS. If you rub a Sharpie on ABS then break the filament you will see what I mean. That said, if you leave the markers in this rig in contact with the stationary filament it will (fairly quickly actually) cause this filament to shear off cleanly at that point. I've not noticed any weakness of the printed colored parts compared to natural parts. I expect the solvent is boiled off in the hot end.


  1. Place the filament through the center channel.
  2. Place one or two makers in the Marker holder.
  3. Slide rig to ensure colorization is happening and to color up to the tip of the filament.
  4. Feed stock into hotend and lock in.
  5. As the print happens, the filament will be dragged across the markers.
  6. See the world of colors appear before you!
  7. Profits!

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What printers would you recommend using this for?

This is just one of those things that didn't work as well as I hoped. The markers cracked both sides upon insertion, And the markers didn't touch the filament as well as they should. Gave me an interesting effect, using red markers it gave orange stripes thru my prints. Great idea, and I'm sure a useful tool for most. Happy printing!

Sounds like your printer might be a little out of calibration. You might try measuring the marker holes in your printed part and the outer diameter of the lower part of your sharpie markers and scale the model up by (sharpie diameter) / (measured hole diameter)

Can this damage your extruder?

There have been some that have reported the ink leaves a residue in the hotend that could clog it. I haven't had an issue with my Makerbot cupcake. It has been printing with the same nozzle for 3 years. I don't use the colorizer as much these days but I used it quite a lot when I first printed it.

This works fine for me and 1.75mm filament, although my Clear ABS snaps in under 2 minutes if it sits. It's just downright impressive aside from being infuriating, especially since I have a bowden setup so I lose large pieces of filament when it happens. I also can't go beyond two sharpies or else it breaks while printing, so the 4 sharpie version makes me envious.

I love the turtles, they look awesome

Filament Colorizer - Sharpie edition
by ramai

hey neat, thats my thing. Thanks for the call out

I should try and make a derivative that would work with the singel head replicator.

 Since the Replicator uses 1.75mm filament you might want to start from the 1.75mm derivative of this Thing: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:13624http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

1.75mm filament colorizer

Coloring PLA actually does work. Black permanent marker on "natural" PLA colors it purple in the end print.

I very much enjoyed this build, but I found extended use will leave a very nasty residue in your extruder. Use sparingly

How did you notice the residue? Did it cause a blockage? What kind of plasti are you using and did you use Sharpie markers or another brand?

Best to figure out what happened, than to suddenly decide you shouldn't use something. I've not noticed a problem and I've been running this setup off and on for 6 months. more than a few 6 hour long prints.

I use ABS, I've noticed that PLA doesn't seem to "absorb" the marker, that could lead to
a wad of color in the hot-end.

Used Sharpie with natural white abs. used mostly green sharpies and after having a lot of clogs noticed a dark green residue around the inside of my extruder tip. Got so tired of finding this green residue in my extruder I replaced my tip.

What if you put a gearing geddup on this thing and had it spinning somewhat rapidly while the filament feeds? That'd get you some serious coverage! :)

Great idea! 8-)

Is there some spring, on the tubes, to only make the markers go down, when needed?

I've actually gotten a couple of requests for a servo based system. That could "color on/color off". I was trying to keep it simple. And keep it useful for a variety of extruder bases. There is a concept on thingiverse for a multi color system that might could be fleshed out to a working system http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5590http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... , but it would take hardware and software to pull off. I think for my money I'm going with simple, if I want to switch colors mid print I can just pull the markers and push in new ones. :)

Penstruder Full color ABS, PLS printing head project

Upside: Easy color changes without buying new spools of filament or trying to splice them on the fly. Downside: color isn't all that intense, and you have to move fast once the pens are in place or you melt through the filament.

Very cool mod. I wonder if it could be turned also into a filament guide, by having it bolt either to the extruder, or something on the chassis.

Use fatter sharpies and cut notches in the tips. This should give you color all the way around with only 2 markers. I like to color the filament before printing though, to keep my markers from drying out.

I thought of that. Fatter sharpies are harder to come by and more expensive. I colored filament before printing as well since you get more color on the filament and thus darker prints. Pre coloring filament for a 6 hour print is a bit of a chore tho.

I can't decide if the sharpies "dry out" or are getting used up. They are drawing for 6 hours after all. :) But it might improve things to try and seal the rig up with an acetone wash or spray sealer.

I thought you had to add sharpie as it extrudes so the solvent doesn't have time to break the plastic. So if you're sure to not add too much color, the filament can handle it without breaking? Or do you use a different kind of marker to pre-color like this?

It takes a few minutes for the filament to break through, I found that as long as you start printing soon there isn't a problem. Most breakages I saw were from coming back to a print that had finished. and the markers had sat there for 5 or more minutes.

You beat me to it! I have been designing one for almost a week now; same function different design. Like it! Color on!

Yeah, that's happened to me a dozen times already, interesting how things get parallel invented. The beauty is that no one will get mad if you post yours, or if you take this one and change it and repost it. :)

Printing one right now!

Nice, now I have to buy Sharpies :

You can put some pictures of the turtles?

Posted, I only have a crappy camera phone to use apologies. Also the only turtles are these very first ones I did. I tend to keep the first new things all the others I give away. :)


Wahoo! Turtles! :-D

Oh yeah, thank you very much for the turtle model. I've made and given away tons of those babies.

Ubercool :-)

Now if you could automate the marker thing (little servo?) to automatically switch between different colors, you could have multicolor-prints with a single printhead!

Doable, but the timing to get the color to come out when you want it to would be tricky to say the least. There is also a good bit of transition time where two colors would be swirled together.

Very cool idea! :-D