One of the most common questions we get asked about is the process around modeling, slicing and printing a multi-colour part. We wanted to take some time to document the entire process on our blog to give you some insight as to what goes into the software workflow behind The Palette. We’re going to cover designing, slicing and printing with the Palette in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks.
So on to the first portion of the workflow:
Modeling and exporting a part for multi-colour printing
There’s a few steps to this area, each one of them is outlined below, and included in the walkthrough video at the end of the section. We’ll be using 123D as our modeling program of choice, as it’s free for anyone to download and a good example of a simple, relatively easy to use 3D modeling program.
For the purpose of this explanation we’ll be working through how to design the 3D printed version of Mosaic’s logo that was available for purchase as part of our Kickstarter campaign.
Start with the 2D sketch of the Mosaic logo, you can see the screenshot of the logo below.
First you need to extrude each section of the logo. You can do this by clicking on the specific section of the sketch you wish to extrude, then hover over the gear symbol, and click the fourth box from the left, “extrude.” (Pictured below) Then specify your desired depth, in this case 3mm, and the first portion of your model will be extruded from your 2D sketch.
At this point, feel free to add a colour representation to your model to make it appear closer to how your end print will appear. You can add colour by clicking on the portion you just extruded, then going to the “Material” section on the bottom menu bar (5th from the left), and selecting a colour from the wheel.
Go through the same steps above to extrude the second portion of the logo, the small middle triangle.
When you do this, it will automatically assign itself to the same solid as the first extrusion. You need to create a new solid to define this area as a different part of the model. Click the arrow to the right of the height definition box (the box pictured that says “3”), and select, “New Solid.” This will make your newly extruded area a different solid from you first extrusion.
Note: This is a crucial step, as when you are exporting your model from 123D, each solid can easily become an .stl file. In your slicer each .stl will have a filament input assigned to it. This means that when you’re modeling your part, you can have a max of four colour/material groups that you can export as .stls, one corresponding to each input in The Palette.
You can then go through the same process above to assign a colour to this solid, and which will have the logo start to emerge.
Complete the above steps for the bottom portion of the logo, as well as the black outline, and your model in 123D should look something like this:
For reference: If you skipped the step where you make each extrusion its own solid, your model would look something like this:
If this is what you’re looking at on your screen, pop back up the page, and follow the directions running you through how to separate each section as it own solid.
Now you’ve got four solids formed in the shape of the Mosaic Logo. We have a few more steps left before you’re ready to export. These steps are mainly to polish the model up to allow a higher quality end print.
Select the sharp corners on your model - the three green lines in the bottom left corner, top left, and middle of the curve at the intersection of the yellow and green portions.
Use the “Radius” tool to soften them up. This will let your key chain have smoother corners, leading to a better feel in your pocket.
Then do the same for the edges on the top and bottom of the keychain, as well as the areas around the key-ring hole to smoothen everything out. Your end product should resemble something like this:
Now its time to export your solids as separate .stl files. This will give you the files you need to import into your slicer, and prepare for your printer.
Keep following the guide below to understand how this might differ from exporting a single .stl.
First, highlight the three solids that you are not going to export:
Then hide these three solids using the “Hide” feature on the bottom navigation menu:
This will leave you one solid on your screen, as pictured below:
Export this as a .stl file. There is a very important step here that you don’t want to miss. When you’re exporting the model, make sure the “Combine Objects” box is unchecked, as pictured below:
Then click “OK,” and you’ve successfully exported the first of your four .stl files.
Go through this process for each solid, and you’ll be ready to move onto the slicing stage!
You can check out the full walk-through video below, it might help clear things up if you’ve been confused by any of the steps in the text version above.