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Pricing & the Cloud: discussing CANVAS, the multi-material 3D printing software platform

Last week, we announced Palette 2, Palette 2 Pro, and CANVAS Hub. We also launched an open beta of CANVAS—the software platform designed for multi-material 3D printing—starting with multi-material slicing. We’ve been thrilled with the community’s response, and we’re working hard to deliver high-quality products and reliable experiences.

With the CANVAS open beta launch came questions about (1) CANVAS’s future pricing tiers, and (2) offline usage. We dive into these topics below.

About CANVAS

CANVAS is an online 3D printing platform designed to create a simple (but powerful) software experience for multi-material printing—but it’s great for single-material printing too. CANVAS is browser-based and hosted in the Cloud, and in the future will have premium paid features. You can learn more about CANVAS here: https://mosaicmfg.com/products/canvas.

CANVAS: Free vs. Premium Features

If you own one of our Palette line of products, CANVAS’s free tier will allow you to upload, color (“paint”), and slice models. One of our goals with CANVAS is to create the cleanest and simplest multi-material 3D printing experience possible—while also offering powerful new features that will drastically improve the multi-material printing experience. You will not be required to pay for CANVAS in order to operate your Palette, Palette+, Palette 2, or Palette 2 Pro now or anytime in the future.

Here are some features that everyone can expect for free in CANVAS (now and in the future):

  • Slicing for single-material 3D printing on any compatible 3d printer
  • Slicing for multi-material and multi-color 3D printing with Mosaic’s Palette line
  • Model coloring (“painting”) for printing with any Palette - Coming soon!
  • Private cloud storage - Projects can be private and storage includes at least 2 GB free.
  • Multi-material slicing optimization (infill transitioning, variable transitions, layer batching, and more) - Coming soon!
  • Standard cloud slicing - For most users, this will be more than enough. However, slicing may be slightly slower during peak times, and we may offer a paid option for faster slicing. Please know that we will never intentionally slow down traffic or slicing speeds; we know that excessively long slicing times would drive users away. We may offer a paid option for faster slicing to sustain CANVAS over the long-term, and enable us to allocate additional resources to slicing to reduce slicing times for those whose value it highly.

First and foremost, we’re building CANVAS to ensure you have a great software experience when printing with Palette, and we believe that charging for the features that Palette owners are most excited about would be foolish. And even for those who do not have a Palette, many of CANVAS’S features will be free and available for you too. Give CANVAS a try at https://canvas3d.io. To help you get started easily, you can import slicer settings from Simplify3D or Slic3r, with support for other slicer profiles coming soon.

If these features are free, what features will be premium/paid?

We will charge for the ability to export multi-tool .gcode files used by multi-extruder printers and non-Mosaic filament changers. These funds will be used to support and further develop CANVAS. Those individuals who have multi-extruder printers or non-Mosaic filament changers will have to upgrade to a paid plan to slice multi-tool .gcode for their machines.

If you have a multi-tool .gcode machine, you will be able to test and try all of the features listed above; however, you will not be able to save your file out/slice it for use with multiple tools/extruders without upgrading to a premium plan.

We may also charge for more premium and industrial features in the future. More on this will be released at a later date.

How can I use my Palette 2 without an Internet connection (or the Cloud)?

While CANVAS will provide the best experience, we also have a desktop (offline) app named Chroma that post-processes .gcode files from other slicers. Palette 2 support will be added in Chroma shortly.

Note that even when using CANVAS that you do not require an Internet connection once you have completed slicing. After slicing, print files can be sent via WiFi to CANVAS Hub at the start of the print or saved locally. CANVAS Hub is OctoPrint-based (so if you are familiar with that platform, the process is similar). If you'd prefer to run things with a "sneaker net," files can be loaded using an SD card directly to Palette 2, too.

Why is CANVAS Cloud-based?

There are several reasons for this:

First, we’re developing a number of advanced features that are more powerful with CANVAS in the Cloud. One example is version control for print settings, so you don’t have to save a bunch of profile files or screenshots of your slicing settings—this will happen automatically. As more users begin using CANVAS, those who choose to do so may also share their print settings with others.

We can use these to provide intelligent suggestions—e.g., We see you’re using a CR-10 with an unmodified extruder and Hatchbox PLA. 94% of users reported very good or excellent print quality using the slicing profile: “Stock CR-10 Hatchbox 0.2mm 20% infill”. Would you like to use this profile? We believe that over time we may be able to help users find optimal settings at a more nuanced level than is currently available (among other features).

Second, we want to focus on creating a great experience. When we think about what features form a great software experience for multi-material 3D printing, we anticipate certain technical requirements. These include, among others: visualization, power/speed, and updates.

  1. Visualization: When we think about visualization tools (e.g., rendering models, rotating them, scaling them, etc.), web technologies stand out to us as being powerful and frequently updated—both useful attributes to allow us to move efficiently and effectively. Some examples of these technologies and libraries might include HTML5, SCSS, WebGL, and Three.js. This is the same reason why Mosaic Chroma software is built using Electron (a development framework that uses web technologies to deploy native applications): it uses HTML/CSS/JavaScript so that we can make improvements efficiently. Making CANVAS web-based helps alleviate complexities about OS compatibility.
  2. Power/Speed: Slicing typically requires serial (as opposed to parallel) processing power. Manipulating .STL files and .gcode files is somewhat resource-intensive, and with particularly large .STLs and .gcode files, native applications are more prone to unsolvable errors. By offering CANVAS in the Cloud, there are fewer worries about individual users’ machines and compatibility issues.
  3. Automated Updates: Users of Mosaic Chroma software (.gcode post-processor used by thousands of Palette & Palette+ owners) know that we add features and squash bugs as quickly as we can (e.g., see this Tweet discussing the pace of our software team). Being hosted in the Cloud allows us to help minimize bugs and ship small changes often (rather than larger changes less frequently) without users having to worry about constantly updating CANVAS. (Note that we will deploy changes respectfully and unobtrusively.)

 

Essentially: you can keep things offline if you wish to, and many features in CANVAS will be free forever for Palette (v1, +, 2, 2 Pro) owners.

We’ll be updating our site soon to reflect these changes—but in the meantime, we hope this post helps address concerns about CANVAS and gives you insight into how we make architectural decisions.

As always, please feel free to share your feedback with us at support@mosaicmfg.com, or join the Palette User Facebook Group at http://mm3d.co/fb. The Facebook group is particularly active and its members are very helpful.

Thank you & happy printing (and slicing)!

- The Mosaic Team

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