3D printing is missing critical infrastructure that would allow for printing in multiple materials. Until 2015, there was no effective and accessible multi-material hardware. And even after the introduction of such hardware, the industry was still missing an essential piece of the puzzle: software.
Existing multi-material software applications have poor workflows, long processing times, and excessive transition material, ultimately resulting in a mess of files. There is potential for more effective software that would correct these flaws and even allow users’ prints to increase in quality over time.
This is why we’re building CANVAS. CANVAS is a cloud-based 3D printing platform. Today, it’s focused on slicing and file storage. In the next six months, we’ll be introducing functionality for coloring single-color .STL files, improving your printer profiles over time, and significantly reducing transition material.
CANVAS is being developed with multi-material 3D printing in mind, but it works perfectly for single-material printing as well. And it’s free for anyone to use.
Today, as part of the announcement of our new multi-material ecosystem, we’re excited to launch an open beta of the CANVAS Platform.
What to expect from the CANVAS Beta
Clean Multi-Material Workflow: This new multi-material workflow is the most notable aspect of CANVAS that you’ll notice in the beta version. With drag-and-drop color assignments, automatic aligning of model origins, and a simple interface, you won’t have to dig around in the advanced settings to get a multi-material print sliced.
For Palette, Palette+, and Palette 2 users, we’ve included our post-processing engine, Chroma. You’ll be able to complete everything in one (fast) step.
Browser-Based Cloud Slicing: For those of you without powerful computing platforms, this will be especially valuable. Because CANVAS is browser-based, we’ll be the ones handling the computing requirements behind slicing and you’ll be able to slice large models quickly—even on machines that are not able to run Cura, Slic3r, and/or Simplify3D.
File Storage and Organization: All of your projects, their .STLs, and their settings are saved and can be accessed securely from any computer.
These are three features that you can expect from CANVAS today, but they’re just the beginning. CANVAS’s feature set will only grow from here!
What to expect from CANVAS 1.0
STL Coloring: One of the biggest bottlenecks in the widespread adoption of multi-color 3D printing is the ability for “non-technical” people to create color content. There are hundreds of thousands of single-color .STL files available, yet only a fraction of that number of multi-color models exist.
While there currently exists some software (e.g., Meshmixer) that allows for rudimentary coloring, the required technical knowledge remains beyond the command of most users.
That’s where CANVAS’s coloring tools come in. With a simple interface and a powerful back-end, you’ll have the ability to breathe new life into single-color models.
Transition Optimization: Transition material adds time, wastes filament (and money), and takes up space on your print bed; it’s one of the biggest irritants of multi-material 3D printing.
In Mosaic Chroma Software 3.0, we previewed a number of advanced features to help reduce (and, in some cases, remove) transition material from a print.
When working as a post processor, there are only so many modifications software can make to G-Code. Now that we’re working at the slicing level, these transition-reducing features are going to become much more robust, reliable, and accessible. They’ll no longer be restricted to advanced users; they will become commonplace to use in every multi-material print you complete.
Intelligent Slicing: At a functional level, this is one of the most exciting and compelling reasons to host CANVAS in the cloud.
To date, tens of millions of models have been sliced in Cura, Simplify3D, and Slic3r. Some of these models have printed well, some have printed okay, some have failed, and some have failed miserably.
Because these slicers are desktop-based, the feedback loop is much slower or, in most cases, non-existent. Information on whether a print worked and/or what settings were changed has been lost. We’re left to discuss via message boards and tweak our settings manually, instead of working together to make slicing more intelligent and higher quality prints more widespread.
By hosting CANVAS in the cloud, we’ll be able to collect valuable information regarding how your print came out and tighten this feedback loop, and use this information to make intelligent suggestions to your print settings. Beyond print settings, we can look at manufacturer- and printer-specific data to help improve the stock profiles of these machines, thereby bettering the printing experience for new and experienced users alike.
Note that any data collected through CANVAS will be anonymized, and you will have the ability to opt out of its collection. That said, in the spirit of improving our collective 3D printing experience, we do encourage you to take part in this aspect of CANVAS. We of course take no ownership of your model files and will keep all of your data secure using up-to-date industry-standard encryption and security practices.
Pre-Set Profiles: We will set up common printer profiles on the platform, so there will be no need to spend time importing your machine and profile information. These profiles can be tweaked to your liking and—if you have profiles from other slicers—you can import those as well.
Who is CANVAS for?
During the beta, any printer that uses regular G-Code will be able to use CANVAS. Any printer that is being used with a Palette 2 will be able to use CANVAS and take advantage of the new multi-material workflow.
Whether you’re a Palette user or not, we’d love for you to give CANVAS a try and let us know what you think. We’re open to feedback, have a reputation in our community for implementing user suggestions quickly, and have a team dedicated to CANVAS development. We love talking with our users, and would really appreciate your input and help to make CANVAS the best software platform possible.
- The Mosaic Team