How does the software work?
Palette’s software works with existing multi-extruder slicers on the market. You start by configuring your slicer to prepare a four extruder print and then assign each extruder to the appropriate .stl files. You slice the parts, create four extruder .gcode. Using Mosaic’s software app, this .gcode is processed to make it ready for your single extruder printer. The app also creates a .SEEM file which can be loaded onto Palette using the included SD card. The .SEEM file contains all of the information that Palette needs in order to change filaments at the correct times and to stay in tune with your printer.
As a bonus, we have built this process into a simple Cura plugin! This means that all you need to do in Cura (a great - free - open source slicing program) is import your models, press slice, and it will create the .gcode for your printer, and .SEEM file for Palette in one shot.
We also are creating tutorials explaining the process to ensure you a smooth transition to printing with multiple filaments.
What slicers can I use?
Palette currently works with two great slicers: Cura and Simplify 3D. The reason we are focusing on these two slicers is because we would like to reach as wide of an audience as possible. Simplify 3D is the leader in the paid slicer software market, while we believe that Cura is one of the most popular free, open-source slicers available.
Is my printer compatible?
Open 1.75mm Filament
If you can use a standard spool of 1.75mm filament with your printer then you are good! Proprietary filament cartridges like those used on the Stratasys Mojo will not work with Palette.
Palette creates filament for your printer to print with so there must be access to pass the filament to your printer’s extruder from outside the printer. In general, there are very few printers where this is a concern.
If your printer runs off of .gcode or .x3g then it will be compatible with our software, learn more If your printer runs on closed source proprietary software then it will not work directly with Palette’s software solutions.
The hot end on your printer will dictate how well it can transition from one filament to the next.
Can I use Palette with a direct drive? Bowden Extruder?
Yep! You can use Palette with a direct drive or a Bowden system. From the printer’s point of view, Palette’s output was designed to be essentially the same as pulling a single filament off of a spool.
What modifications will I have to do to my existing 3D printer?
You don’t need to make any modifications to your printer! The closest thing to a modification is that the scroll wheel will need to be attached to your printer. We include a piece of adhesive backed Velcro to make this quick and easy.
What comes in the box?
You’ll get your very own Palette, along with the scroll wheel, teflon tubing, a power supply, some basic tools, USB cable, and an SD Card. Some basic assembly may be required to accommodate shipping.
How do I model parts to be printed with Palette?
Multiple filament models are just like regular single filament models except that there are separate .stl files for each component. When you are modeling for multi-filament prints, you can export each grouping of components as their own .stl file so that you can later assign them to a certain filament colour or type in the slicing software. Downloading multi-filament models is just as easy as before where now there will be multiple .stl files rather than just one. We will provide tutorials to get you started with designing multi-filament models.
When switching between colours my printer blends the two materials together. How does Palette create clean areas on the part?
HOT END TRANSITONING
As the hot end on a 3D printer transitions from one filament to the next some degree of blending will occur. For instance, when going from blue to yellow, there will be a section of transition material that may have a green tint. To account for this, the transition material can be discarded to allow for only the pure filament to be used. There are some 3D printers that transition from one filament to the next very quickly limiting the amount of transition waste, while others can take much longer to do so. There is a setting in our software solution to control how much transition material is discarded between filament changes to allow this to be easily tweaked for different printers. If you would like to check the transition properties of your 3D printer there is a simple test you can perform. Take two pieces of filament that are different colors and run them through your printer one after another. Keep on extruding the second material through until the extruded material has fully transitioned to the colour of the second filament, the shorter the transition, the less material that will be need to be discarded during a transition when printing with Palette.
DEALING WITH TRANSITION MATERIAL
There are a number of common ways to deal with the transition material. The most common solution is to use a transition tower which is a sacrificial structure built up alongside your printer part. This is similar to a wipe tower or cooling tower commonly used with multi-extruder systems. When the hot end needs to transition from one filament to the next, it prints the transition material onto this transition tower. Another solution is to discard the transition material off the side of the printer’s build plate. This is a quick and simple way to achieve a similar result to the transition tower. For some parts the transition material can be hidden as infill. We are working on streamlining our software to simplify the process of setting this up on different printers. There is also a lot of opportunity to optimize the transition process and minimizing the amount of material that is wasted. We are continuously working on this and have already seen large improvements in the last couple months.
What does multi-colour printing mean?
Multi-colour printing means that Palette can use the 4 input filament colours to create a part on your 3D printer that has these 4 colours in it. The same can be said for multi-filament printing where this is more broad and can apply to the use of filaments with different properties such as strength, conductance, or texture to name a few. There is incidental blending that occurs inside of a 3D printer’s hot end which can, in some cases, be leveraged to create gradients and blending although Palette itself does not blend the 4 input filaments together. There have been some publications that loosely use the terms ‘full colour’ or ‘colour blending’ and we wanted to clarify that Palette is in fact a multi-colour / multi-filament technology.
Can I print with filaments that have different melting temperatures?
One of the requirements to use different filaments together is that they have temperature compatibility. This means that they can both be extruded at similar temperature since they will be passing through the same hot end. As a lot of 3DP filaments were engineered to be used on printers designed to extrude PLA or ABS, we have found that there are a large number of filaments that meet this requirement. We have found that as long as the extrusion temperatures of the 4 filaments are within 5-10 degrees of each other, good performance can be achieved. In a more extreme case we were able to splice and print filaments that differed by 20 degrees although this is something we would consider experimental at this point.
What filament works best with Palette?
Palette has been optimized for the PLA family of filaments. You can use the filament you already have with your Palette or buy some new material from your favorite filament suppliers.
We have used over a dozen different brands of filament and have been able to print reliably with all of them. We have found that you get the best results when using 4 filaments from the same supplier, although we have had success loading Palette with 4 filaments from different suppliers. We have done extensive testing with 4KG Colour Filament and would highly recommend using it with your Palette.