We’ve been asked a ton of questions about our open source philosophy, we thought it would be a great topic for a blog post. So here we are!
We’ve always wanted to be as transparent as possible regarding our position on open versus closed. We thought it would be helpful to layout our reasoning behind the decisions we made; closed hardware, paired with open software and open materials.
When we started Mosaic in June of 2014, we had a clear goal; to bring colour to desktop 3D printing. This goal has since evolved into something much deeper - to let printers create a wider variety of objects.
Our technology naturally developed from colour, to materials with different properties. We believe there is untapped potential in the approach of FDM 3D printing which starts to be realized when you add combinations of material properties together. By pairing conductive filaments with metallic filaments with flexible filaments with soluble filaments, you can create a huge new range of objects (*we’re still working on the last two). We believe examples like this will prove to be incredibly important to the evolution of consumer 3D printing.
This shift from multiple colours, to allowing printers to create a wider range of objects brought about a realization in our company – we needed to build a platform, not a product. We needed to create something that could become more usable as time went on, not a product that would become obsolete. We’ve always known what were good at, because it's what we love to do – develop, and produce, hardware.
But here’s the thing, hardware is only one piece of the puzzle – software and materials are the other cornerstones that make up the foundation of 3D printing.
The killer use case for 3D printing is different for every person – some people print models, others print quadcopter parts, other people create puzzles and games. We knew the same would hold true for our platform. Some would use it to combine the ends of their empty spools, some for layered prints, and others to create pre-spooled colour filament.
So the question became, “how do we create our platform to enable all the features our users will want?” When you ask this question the answer becomes clear:
You need to open aspects of the platform.
We can, and will, get the software components surrounding the platform to a user friendly, feature rich state. But the great thing about the 3D printing community is that people will always dream up ways to add on, improve, and modify the platform. We wanted to give the community the option to do so.
The choice to open the software (and firmware) aspects of the Palette became obvious; however, we knew we needed to keep aspects of the platform closed to ensure we could continue to exist.
These decisions came from a sense of pragmatism; we believe that opening portions of the system will allow for the largest technical evolution in the shortest period of time.
By understanding the landscape, and creating a platform that can evolve, we aim to create a better experience for you, an experience that lets you move beyond the limitations you used to have.