Update: Great news! Since the writing of this article, we’ve launched two newer versions of the Palette (Palette 2 and Palette 2 Pro) at a reduced price. Get them here.
We began developing Palette over three years ago with the goal of bringing multi-color printing to every filament-based (FFF/FDM) 3D printer. Over time, we came to realize that Palette’s core technology could offer more than multi-color PLA prints—it could enable multi-material printing.
Time and time again, members of the 3D printing community would ask if Palette was compatible with water-soluble materials, engineering polymers, and flexible materials. The answer was always no—until today!
We’re delighted to announce Palette+!
Palette+ enables multi-material printing on most 1.75mm filament-based (FFF) printers.
Palette+ is available for pre-order for $799 USD, with the first batch leaving our facility on July 31, 2017. Reserve yours by clicking here, or read on to find out more. Palette+ is compatible with 1.75mm .gcode/.hvs/.g3drem/.x3g printers that allow non-proprietary filament. (Find out if your printer is compatible with Palette+ by answering these quick questions.)
Robo 3D printers are great with Palette+
We’re thrilled to partner with Robo 3D to bring Palette+ to Robo 3D printer users. Robo 3D printers and Palette+ are great companions to allow multi-material, multi-color printing at accessible price points. The Robo R2 prints with 30+ materials.
Robo 3D customers will have access to printer-specific onboarding for Palette+, providing them with a unique, tailored experience, and easy access to multi-color, multi-material technology. Palette+ will be available for reservation soon on the Robo 3D website.
New features with Palette+
One of Palette+’s biggest enhancements is its compatibility with more material combinations, including: PLA with a water-soluble, PLA with flexible TPU, and PETG with PETG.
We're working to bring functionality that was once exclusively available on industrial machines to the desktop market, and to allow filament-based printers to create a wider variety of objects.
Engineering and food grade: PETG
Palette+ enables the creation of tough, temperature resistant, recyclable, and food safe prints with PETG. MatterHackers.com describes PETG filament as “durable and easy to print” and “likely to take over as the most commonly-used filament.”
One of the first Palette owners played with their Palette’s settings to try to use PETG. While some of these prints completed successfully (like the Dragon print below that was featured on twitter.com/PalettePrinted), these prints came at a cost: they required lower printing speeds so Palette could could keep up—splicing PETG required longer heating times.
An early Palette owner’s experiment with PETG. We tested PETG more thoroughly so it would be reliable and easy-to-use with Palette+. (Original Dragon Model by MakerBot.)
An impressive group of PETG prints completed by an early Palette owner. (Low-Poly Pokémon Models by Flowalistik.)
Palette+ removes this barrier. Palette+’s new splicing technology creates excellent PETG splices and is just as fast with PETG as it is with PLA. PETG is now supported for Palette+, and is rated for use on prints with up to 700 splices.
Resilient and easy to print: a multi-color headphone band made of PETG with Palette+.
One of the most frequent requests we received from Palette owners was compatibility with soluble materials. Today, we’re happy to announce that Palette+ works with select water-soluble support materials. We searched for a high-quality, widely available water-soluble filament, and we found it in Scaffold from E3D’s spoolWorks. Scaffold is the first water-soluble material that is compatible with Palette.
Palette+ can enable prints with up to 3 PLA-based filaments with Scaffold as the 4th. With Palette+, single-extruder printers can create multi-color and multi-material prints with highly complex geometries.
These were printed with PLA and Scaffold on single-extruder printers:
Intertwined Möbius strips (PLA-PLA-Scaffold). Printed on a Series 1 Pro from Type A Machines. (Awesome model by cadboy — Thing:54030.)
Low-poly whale (PLA-Scaffold). (Sleek model by simulacrumstudios — Thing:156081.)
Multi-color ball bearing (PLA-PLA-PLA-Scaffold). The balls are suspended by Scaffold, a water-soluble filament by E3D.
Palette+ and Scaffold are supported for prints with up to 500 splices.
We’ll continue to test other support materials (and we’ll prioritize testing those with the most requests). Send us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org, (or send us a few meters of your filament) if you’d like us to test Palette+ with your favorite water-soluble filament!
Flexible: TPU material (Shore hardness 91A and harder)
Many Palette users have requested Palette support for flexible filaments. We’re happy to share that Palette+ is compatible with select TPU-based flexible materials when spliced with PLA. Flexible materials are useful to create end-use products and more realistic prototypes, and for a plethora of other cool uses. TPU can be used to simulate cartilage in a spinal cord, or to create pressable buttons on headphones. Using TPU with PLA can add new dimensions to your prints.
Flexible materials can be tricky to print with. This material group is rated for prints with up to 50 splices. We have good splicing algorithms and settings for a flexible polyurethane TPU with a Shore hardness of 91A. We’re working to optimize settings for a wider range of TPU filaments, and to improve consistency and reliability further .
Multi-segment filament (PLA-TPU) made with Palette+.
We’ll release a materials guide closer to Palette+’s ship date (July 31, 2017) to provide more information on what filament brands/materials we recommend for use with Palette (as well as recommended Palette and print settings).
Material not listed? Contact email@example.com if you have any questions or requests to test materials. If you print with a particular filament and want us to test its compatibility with Palette+, contact us, send us a few meters, and we’ll happily test it for you.
Improved reliability & better splicing technology
Palette+ features brand new splicing technology that, in addition to unlocking new materials, makes splices stronger and more reliable. This new technology leads to a much more robust system, and a better overall user experience.
Both Palette and Palette+ accept multiple filaments, cut them into precise segments, and use heat to splice filaments together into multi-segment strands of filament (which are fed to your printer in real time). Palette does this by pressing a carefully crafted heating element directly against filament (we call this open splicing). By contrast, Palette+ features new splicing technology that we call closed splicing. In this paradigm, the heating element never makes direct contact with the filament. Instead, a hot element heats an enclosed chamber that houses the filament.
Differences between the old (left) and new (right) splicing technologies. The new splicing region features a precisely designed channel that houses the filament during splicing. You’ll also notice a few other upgrades, like a screw-in thermistor and a new aluminum bumper.
This new method of splicing creates stronger, more reliable bonds by more evenly distributing heat across the conjoined surfaces of filaments in an entirely new way. With this new tech, the bonds themselves are as strong as most filaments.
Bottom: By contrast, splices from the original Palette bond over a smaller surface.
Palette+’s closed splicing technology has augmented the entire Palette+ system to be more consistent and reliable than the original Palette, and unlocks these new material combinations.
Chroma is Palette+’s software companion. Chroma accepts multi-body/multi-extruder G-code from Simplify3D and Cura, processes this G-code, and produces two files: a file with instructions for Palette+ to make filament, and a print file for your printer.
New Chroma features include:
Raft: support for more slicers, slicing features, printers, and print file types
The biggest change to Chroma is its new G-code processing engine: Raft. Raft is a vastly more intelligent and nuanced approach to parsing and analyzing G-code. Raft:
(1) allows, through future updates, Palette+ and Chroma to support more slicers (Slic3r, KISSlicer, Repetier-Host, etc.),
(2) allows Chroma to accept more variations of G-code (like .g3drem, .hvs), and
(3) allows Chroma to support a wider variety of slicer settings (e.g., variable layer heights, nozzle temperature changes, numerous Simplify3D processes in the same print).
Raft isn’t an acronym—it’s a metaphor. A raft can help ‘stabilize’ a print by accounting for an uneven bed to make sure every print starts on a level surface. Chroma’s Raft engine is analogous to a print raft. Raft is a language-agnostic API for processing 3D print instructions. In addition to parsing various flavors of G-code (like .g3drem, .g, .hvs), it abstracts other print formats like .MakerBot into manipulable G-code. (.MakerBot file support is planned for the future.)
Better onboarding & setup
Chroma’s old onboarding process required a custom G-code start script (which could be clunky to implement for experts, and terrifying for 3D printing newbies). With Raft, all of this goes away. Getting your Palette+ up and running is a more straightforward process across the board, with less moving between programs, windows, and web pages. Chroma walks you through everything you need to know to get started with Palette+.
Chroma will feature an easier setup guide that is more directed to your specific printer and its key characteristics (cartesian v. delta, direct-drive v. bowden). This release will substantially simplify the setup process.
Enhanced transitions: minimizing waste & print time
To ensure the right filament is crisp and primed in your extruder at the right time, Chroma inserts ‘transition towers’ into Palette+ prints.
Chroma now offers further enhanced transition towers: towers with variable sizes (e.g., decreasing transition size as the print progresses) and further tower optimizations (to reduce waste and decrease print time). It also offers improvements to side transitions (an alternative to transition towers), and will offer other transitions options in the future.
Better multi-filament print generation tools
MSF files power Palette+. They include information like the length, order, and material of each splice. Chroma offers more .MSF editors and generators to enable Palette+ to provide more utility (e.g., to splice the end of one spool to the beginning [or middle] of another). We’re also working to introduce a gradient generator that will simulate simple color blending over the course of a layered color change print.
Each material combination (e.g., PLA-PLA, PETG-PETG, PLA-Scaffold, PLA-TPU) has a variety of different settings that can be manipulated to increase the quality and reliability of splices. We’ll do the heavy lifting by providing profiles and splice settings for different brands and materials of filament. We plan to focus first on select soluble, TPU, and PETG materials. We expect to expand this repository of profiles over time.
Better setup process
With 500+ Palette owners today, we’ve received a plethora of feedback about the best (and worst) parts of Palette’s setup process. Based on this feedback, we’re making improvements to Palette+’s documentation, setup, and calibration processes. These changes will provide you with a more streamlined multi-color/multi-material 3D printing experience.
Improved firmware & UX
Better navigation, bug fixes, and a more responsive interface will give Palette+ users a great experience when operating their machines. Even better—many of these firmware and UX improvements are backward compatible with Palette. We’ll be pushing out this firmware update at the end of July!
Reduced price point
Manufacturing is tricky—especially when you’re first getting started. Over the past 12 months, we’ve been working to refine our manufacturing processes, and have made efficiency improvements that allow us to make Palette+ more accessible than its predecessor.
Palette+ is available for pre-order for $799 USD, a $200 (20%) decrease from Palette’s price of $999. We will be shipping units out in the order in which orders are placed, starting with the first 50 units/orders on July 31, 2017. Palette+’s retail price will be $799.
Note: If you reserved a Palette after we ran out of stock, you are first in line for the Palette+ launch.
Let’s finish with some pictures. Here are Palette+ units in our facility, and some of the prints they’ve created over the past few weeks:
Plot Twist: This Bulbasaur was printed on a Lulzbot Taz5 with a Palette+. More on this to come! (Low-Poly Bulbasaur model by the amazing Flowalistik.)
Upgrade option for Palette owners
Palette owners, we want to make Palette+’s new technology available to you. For a fee, you can send your Palette back to us, and we’ll upgrade it to a Palette+. See here for more details.
We’re thrilled to share Palette+ with the world. By partnering with Robo 3D, we believe we can continue to spearhead the movement to bring multi-material printing to every desktop 3D printer. Robo 3D owners—reserve your Palette+ via Robo 3D’s website here: Robo 3D.
Wondering if you Palette+ works with your printer? Fill in this quick compatibility survey.