3D printing keeps maturing in leaps and bounds, and the latest innovation is full-color prints, with gradient transitions between tones. Some of the current crop of cheaper, extrusion-based printers do provide coloured prints, but they can only print one colour at a time and the transitions aren’t as smooth as the ones produced by the ProJet 4500 by 3D Systems. This particular machine uses a different technique, laser sintering, to achieve its results. This involves a laser focusing into a precise point in space, and hardening a special powder, point-by-point and layer-by-layer. In this fashion, a more precise and controlled mix of colours is possible, although the end result is somewhat unsaturated and washed out. However, the ProJet 4500 is meant to be used in rapid prototyping, where you’ll be able to save a manual painting step and get your part approved for final production that much quicker.
There’s no word on price, though the device appears to be available.