Mosaic Manufacturing has reduced the price of the color-swapping Palette 2 accessory significantly [Source: Mosaic Manufacturing]
There are very few effective and low-cost color switching options for filament-powered desktop 3D printers, and one of them is from Mosaic Manufacturing, who, in a way, just reduced pricing for the Palette 2.
Color 3D Printing Methods
There are essentially three approaches for automated color swapping on filament 3D printers.
One is the time-tested multiple extruder approach. In this method you might have three (or more) extruders and hot ends, each loaded with a different filament color. The system then uses each nozzle in turn during the print. However, there is a cost to keep all the hot ends warm, and a severe alignment challenge to ensure they are all homed to exactly the same point. It’s also expensive due to the extra hardware required.
Another approach is the “one nozzle, multiple filaments” method, in which a special Y-shaped nozzle might accept two (or more) different filaments. Separate motors push filament on command into the mixing hot end. This allows switching of color without alignment issues, but causes another issue: purging. Much filament will be wasted to purge out the previous color to ensure color purity.
And then there is Mosaic Manufacturing’s unique solution: examine the GCODE to be 3D printed, and on-the-fly create a customized filament with color changes at precisely the right points. Then the 3D printer simply prints the filament and the colors come out correctly.
Mosaic Manufacturing Palette
The Toronto-based company first announced the Palette device in 2014, and finally shipped the Palette much later in 2016. More recently they announced upgraded products, the Palette+ in 2017 and the Palette 2 in 2018.
While we have not yet tested the device in our lab, all reports tend to suggest it is an effective solution for spot color 3D printing. The concern we always had about the device was its pricing.
Their initial device, the Palette, was priced at US$799. At that time that was the price of a decent desktop 3D printer, so you were effectively doubling your costs to achieve spot color.
Since then the more advanced Palette 2 has a lower price of only US$599. While that’s lower, alternative color add-on solutions are priced lower still, such as Prusa’s MMU kit at only US$299. While one can argue the functionality of each option, there is a very clear price difference.
Palette 2 Refurbished
But today we received notice that Mosaic Manufacturing has lowered the price of the Palette 2 significantly — in a way. They’re now offering “refurbished” units, in a “Factory Re-Certified” sale.
This sale offers a refurbished Palette 2 at only US$399, relatively close in price to Prusa’s alternative option. It’s not clear how long they will offer this pricing, nor whether they have a larger quantity of units at that price.
If you were ever thinking of acquiring a Palette 2 for a color upgrade to your desktop 3D printer, this might be the moment to do so.