There was a time when most of us thought the next logical step for desktop 3D printing would be adding additional extruders and hot ends to allow the device to print in multiple colors or materials. Unfortunately, such arrangements quickly become unwieldy and calibration can become a nightmare even with just two extruders. For this reason, there is a trend towards systems that only use one hotend and simply alternately feed the filament. But such systems have their own problems.
Probably the biggest problem is how long it takes to change the filaments. Pallet 2 uses a physical buffer of spliced filament to stay one step ahead of the printer [Kurt Skauen] shows that significant increases in performance can be achieved by building a larger buffer. He says there are still some calibration issues but judging from the video after the break we would say he is definitely on the right track.
The buffer is necessary to give the spliced filament time to cool and glue before it is fed into the printer, but as currently designed, the machine simply cannot store enough of it to keep up with high print speeds. The storage buffer area holds 125mm of spliced filament, but the modification [Kurt] has developed, adds a whopping 280mm to achieve more than three times the storage capacity.
He has successfully tested printing at speeds up to 200mm / s with his improved buffer, a huge improvement over what he saw with the original buffer area. This is despite the fact that Mosaic (the company that makes the pallet) claims the original buffer size is already more than sufficient. It seems we found ourselves in the middle of a debate between Mosaic and some very vocal members of the community, and while we don’t want to take sides, it’s hard to ignore [Kurt]’s findings.
Wanna make your own [Kurt] posted all of the information that others would need to duplicate his work, including the STLs for any printed parts and a list of the bearings, springs, and fasteners you will need to assemble. It looks like a pretty big endeavor, but with the potential for such a significant speed boost, we don’t doubt others are ready to take the plunge. One person who printed and installed an earlier version of the buffer upgrade reports that their printing speed more than doubled with a 0.8mm nozzle.
The palette has come a long way since we first saw it in 2016, and since then Prusa has thrown her orange hat in the ring with her own filament switching upgrade. No machine is without its tricky problems, but they are probably still our best chance at taking desktop 3D printing to the next level.