If you’re looking for a fascinating way to coax your monocolor 3D printer into producing multiple colors, you can now obtain a Palette from Mosaic Manufacturing.
The Palette is a very interesting device I wrote of in 2014, where they demonstrated a method of producing multicolor prints. Their approach is quite fascinating:
- Analyze a print’s GCODE looking for color changes
- Develop a set of filament lengths corresponding to the color changes
- Splice together a custom filament using those lengths
- Print the model with that filament
It may sound a bit crazy, but Mosaic Manufacturing actually has this working. Essentially, it’s an accessory that potentially turns any single-hotend 3D printer into a multicolor device, as if you had multiple extruders installed.
The Palette at this time works only with PLA filaments, as it has to heat the filament to splice segments together. Evidently the device is perhaps unable to raise the temperature sufficiently high for ABS and other plastics.
The USD$799 device is not inexpensive, however, but it transforms your USD$500 desktop 3D printer into the color equivalent of an expensive four or six-extruder machine, at least as far as colors go.
One caution however: Mosaic Manufacturing is a small startup company with limited resources. So far, they’ve shipped only two units, but have been working on more. According to their blog post, they’ve been learning a lot about quality assurance through their assembly and shipping process.
To be clear, this color process only yields “spot color”, in which larger portions of a 3D model are separately colored. It does not provide an ability to produce the full RGB set of colors, nor is it able to reproduce a photographic texture, for example. But if you want to embed colored labels, color highlights, separately colored handles, or similar operations, the Palette could be the accessory for you.