Moving from Closed to Open


My new Prusa 3D printer kit is supposed to arrive next week, about three months after I preordered it.

During that long wait I've been learning some of the software used in the open source printer world, including Slic3r, the slicer that's been customized to work with the Prusa printers. Fortunately, TierTime recently opened up their hobby printers to accept gcode from other software, allowing me to experiment with using Slic3r with my existing printers.

(For those not familiar with 3D printing lingo, the "slicer" is the program which takes a 3D model and turns it into gcode instructions for the printer, sort of like a print driver in the 2D printing world. "Gcode" is a nearly-universal format for the printing instructions.)

One huge advantage of stepping into the open source printing world is I now have access to tools and accessories I couldn't use before. A case in point is the Palette+, a filament splicer for making prints with multiple colors and materials.

I bought a Palette+ to give me more options for multicolor printing than just the Multi-Material Upgrade by Prusa. There have been some customers reporting significant problems with Prusa's older model of MMU, and it seems like it's still very experimental. One nice thing about the Palette+ is that it can be used with more than one printer, so I've been experimenting with getting it to work with my Cetus.

And after a couple weeks, and convincing the Palette's manufacturer that they really should support the TierTime printers, it works. Thanks to the magic of open standards, I was able to add multicolor capability to my old single-extruder printer.

First two-color test print
My first successful two-color print from a Cetus3D printer and a Palette+ filament splicer.

Getting the Palette+ to work properly took more effort than it should have, mostly because TierTime has some nonstandard stuff in their gcode processor. That's a good argument for why standards should be, well, standard.