Today, we announced CANVAS. In this post, we outline our thought processes: why are we creating CANVAS, who will derive value from it, and what will the platform offer?
First—why are we creating a software platform?
Three years ago, we founded Mosaic based on our belief in a future where multi-color and multi-material printing would become the industry standards in the desktop 3D printing space. We believe this is a critical step to enable printers to create a wide range of valuable end use products. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of hardware solutions come to market to help achieve a similar goal. Some that come to mind other than Palette (our solution) are the BCN3D Sigma, the Ultimaker 3, and the soon-to-be-released Prusa i3 MK2 Multi-Material Upgrade. We are excited about this progress and want to further the impact of all these products.
However, if you have spent time with any of these machines, you will quickly have realized that the software operating these machines was never designed to create more than single-color, single-material parts. All the products above operate off of dual-extruder software frameworks—which themselves have been created as band-aid solutions for a small part of the market. There has never been a software platform designed to allow users to operate these machines seamlessly—a platform built especially for multi-material printing. This is CANVAS.
If you’ve ever used one of today’s slicers for a multi-color part you know the workflow isn’t exactly… ideal. From setting up different “Processes,” to assigning portions of a model to a given color or material and making sure nothing overlaps, the current experience is far from intuitive.
We’re creating CANVAS because we know there’s a need for it (our partners and customers are asking for it), and our company is fully focused on increasing the accessibility to multi-color and multi-material printing. We're working to allow desktop machines to create a more useful and diverse variety of products than ever before, and software is a HUGE part of that goal.
Second—who is CANVAS for?
When we were first starting Mosaic, we made the decision not to build our technology into a single 3D printer. The reason for that? We believed (and still do) that by creating a universal platform we would be able to focus on moving the entire industry forward, instead of just a sliver of the market.
We're designing CANVAS as a universal platform, but it will not be open source.
We made a decision to allow our hardware to function next to different printers; this will remain true with the release of CANVAS. We believe that this approach is the best way to push forward our goal of establishing multi-color, multi-material printing as the new industry standard. Because of this decision, CANVAS will be compatible with the Ultimaker 3, BCN3D Sigma R17, and other .gcode/.x3g multi-material 3D printers.
We’re going to work with the community for testing the above products, and, as long as the hardware above continues to allow for non-proprietary file types, you will be able to use CANVAS.
Third—WHAT DOES CANVAS ACTUALLY DO?
At the beginning, CANVAS will focus on simplifying the user experience that comes with multi-color and multi-material printing.
This means the CANVAS first release will be as a multi-material slicer that intuitively allows the assignment of color to models. The current workflow is prohibitively complicated and that there is significant value to be offered by creating a more streamlined workflow and cleaner experience.
From here, we shift our focus to efficiency, ensuring that multi-color and multi-material parts are printed optimally. This will include decreasing print time, decreasing transition towers and other waste material, and improving the functional properties of your parts (more on this in a later post).
That’s on the slicing side, but if we stopped there we’d be missing an entire aspect of the 3D printing process: model creation and customization.
Cloud Model Customization
There are a few model customization tools on the market, like the one on MakerBot’s Thingiverse. While these tools work for simple parts like vases and keychains, they are limited in terms of the types of products and custom features they can support. Very few, if any, can support multi-material parts.
The CANVAS customizer unlocks nearly endless control over products that are on the platform. It is being developed with designer-friendly tools and a simple interface. This provides the complete power of 3D printing to everyone, not just CAD experts.
The customization area within CANVAS gives you control over the products you print - even if you are not an advanced CAD designer. This will allow you, the user, to customize geometries, materials, aesthetics, and functional properties of what you're creating. It will be powered by an industry-leading CAD engine, meaning that it will support everything from the simplest product to the most complex. This integration will make it easier for designers to get up and running with our designer-facing tools.
Our goal with the CANVAS's customization offerings extends beyond FDM/FFF 3D printing; we seek to offer the customization platform to all forms of digital manufacturing. We want everyone to be able to create personalize products and for these products to be deliverable across a number of manufacturing platforms. (Again—more on this in later blog posts!)
We're building the platform in the cloud to allow users to store and share printer settings, files, and most importantly, their models. It also means that you can get great performance on any computer—our servers will do the heavy lifting!
We'd love to have you check out the first version when it’s ready. If you're interested, you can leave us your email on the form halfway down this page and we'll keep you in the loop when the beta release comes out.
So... what does it cost?
CANVAS will launch as a free platform. Over time, we expect to launch premium functionality and already have requests for custom features from our partners. We're taking on some pretty big challenges, and in order to support and grow the platform, we will need to include a pricing structure for CANVAS at a later date.
As always, we'll keep you informed with the plans so you know what to expect from us and our product line as more developments come.
We'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a note below with any questions or comments you may have!
We're very excited about what the future holds, thank you for being a part of this journey with us.