Enabling multi-material 3D printing has been Mosaic’s mission since our early days in 2014. Since then, we’ve sold tens of thousands of Palette units to customers in over 70 countries. Introducing the latest generation of Palette:
Palette 3 + Palette 3 Pro
Two of the most important aspects that Palette 3 improves on are user experience, and reliability.
Additionally, Palette 3 Pro allows for the printing of up to 8 materials on a single extruder 3D printer. This is double the 4 inputs on every other Palette to date, and more available materials than any other approach on the market.
Simple Multi-Material 3D Printing
Palette 3’s new user interface, and approach to connectivity means that you’re able to get an incredibly simple experience. One of the biggest changes when compared to Palette 2 is the integrated Canvas Hub S. This means that you’re able to connect Palette 3 (Pro) to your printer, and access easier loading, connected calibration, and a simpler printing workflow.
Alongside this, Mosaic has developed our own version of printer control and communication in Canvas, which allows you to send files directly to your Palette 3, with no USB drives or SD cards. Through this interface, you’re able to heat up your printer, start prints, and monitor your print job.
Including Canvas Hub S functionality meant the Mosaic team had more flexibility to add in additional workflows, tutorials, and walkthroughs on Palette itself. This means Palette is better able to guide you through setup and printing.
These three aspects combine to ensure your Palette printing experience will be straightforward and simpler than ever before.
With product feedback on thousands of Palette 2 units, the Mosaic team was able to isolate the most common failure modes and design Palette 3 to ensure these were no longer present for users.
There were two main wear points that were focused on - splice tubes and limit switches.
Each Palette Splice Core consists of a few main components, one of the important ones being the PTFE tube. This PTFE tube is where the filament is actually spliced, and re-formed to a tight tolerance in order to allow the spliced filament to feed into your 3D printer. These tubes are made through an incredibly precise manufacturing process. Based on our team’s data collection and endurance testing, we found that the typical Palette 2 splice tube would wear out between 5,000 and 10,000 splices.
This wear is very dependent on the quality of the filament used, which leads to the range seen above. Increasing the average time for a splice tube to wear is one of the primary reasons we launched Mosaic PLA last year. With tolerances of +/- .02mm, Mosaic PLA guarantees a higher average life of your PTFE tube, especially when compared to +/- .05mm filaments.
Palette 3 was designed to splice in a different way, and due to the Palette Engineering teams’ ability to modify hardware and splicing algorithms - Palette 3 splice tubes average life now ranges from 10,000 splices, up to 25,000 splices.
What that means for you is that you’ll experience a more reliable printing experience.
Filament Sensor Re-Design
One of the requirements of Palette is that it understands where filament is in the system at any given time. In order to accomplish this, Palette has a number of ‘filament sensors’ inside in order to understand if filament is present in that area of Palette (or not present).
The filament sensors on Palette 2 used an off the shelf mechanical switch that was directly in contact with the filament. Sometimes the filament would apply excessive load to the switches requiring them to be replaced leading to a less than optimal user experience.
When working through the initial designs of Palette 3, the Palette engineering team knew that these switches needed to be redesigned and optimized for longer term operation. The team took an entirely new approach to switch design, and the results came in illustrating a new lifetime of over 2,000,000 splices. The new switch features a hardened steel, bi-directiional spring loaded switch tab that activates an optical sensor when the filament displaces the tab. The filament no longer engages with the switch allowing for drastic performance and durability improvements. These switches were run for millions of cycles without fail, and have gone from one of the weaker links in the Palette system to one of the strongest.
Pushing the boundaries of 3D printing
CamDrive Design and 8 Material 3D Printing
One of the biggest challenges Mosaic’s engineering team faced was how to scale the number of materials Palette could print, without scaling the size and cost of the product accordingly. The Palette Engineering team came up with a cam system that would still allow for 4 inputs on Palette 3 while also enabling up to 8 inputs for Palette 3 Pro.
Building on the backbones of Mosaic’s patent pending sliding selection drive system from a 2014 application, this new rotary CAM system embodies the key benefits of 2 motors to drive any number of filament. Unlike other simpler rotary feeder systems on the market, Palette 3’s CAM is a first of it’s kind workhorse with unrivaled drive strength and consistency between all inputs.
Cam system works with one motor ‘selecting’ which material is to be driven via rotating a cylinder with a number of idler bearings. Depending on the position of the cam, a certain input’s idler bearing will be opposite the drive gear. This idler bearing pushes the filament into the gear, and the filament is driven when the gear rotates. The other 3 (or 7) materials are not pressed up against the gear so these materials do not move forward when the drive gear rotates.
Cam systems have an incredible amount of nuance to them and must be designed, tested and manufactured in a specific way in order to operate reliably. The cam system in Palette 3 has gone through torture testing of over 100,000 material changes.
Designed with a combination of metal and solid polymer components, the system is strong and rigid enough to last through the most rigorous printing processes.
Constrained Buffer System
The Palette engineering team re-imagined the buffer system inside Palette 3 in order to allow for higher print speeds, and a more constrained material path. This updated buffer system has the material staying inside of a PTFEtube, constraining the material through the buffer.
Unlike Palette 2, The lower limit buffer switch has been moved out to allow for additional movement once this switch has been triggered. In the past, if this switch was triggered it meant that there was no buffer remaining, and if the printer was pulling filament, this could lead to skips in extrusion and small gaps in your part.
With the lower limit switch moved out, there is an additional buffer below this switch, which means Palette 3 will have more time to move filament out into the buffer and continue feeding material to your printer. We also added a buffer maximum switch to further optimize buffer performance.
The constrained buffer system allows for easier automated loading and system clearing.
Additional Cooling Systems
Airflow and cooling is an understated aspect of the Palette system that most operators don’t think about. Cooling splices, and ventilating the electronics systems are incredibly important to reliable operation over longer periods of time.
With the help of some new thermal imaging equipment, we were able to collect data over tens of thousands of splices and use this data to ensure efficient cooling and airflow when Palette 3 is being run over extended periods of time.
3D Printing, Evolved.
Palette 3 and Palette 3 Pro are the simplest, most reliable way to achieve multi-material 3D printing on your 3D printer. This generation of Palette is the culmination of 7 years of expertise in multi-material 3D printing, all created to allow you to get the most flexibility out of your machine.
Palette 3 and Palette 3 Pro will begin arriving as early as July 2021, check out the Palette 3 and Palette 3 Pro product page here.