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Why does no slicer react to vertex / face color for dual / multi-colored print?

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Posted · Why does no slicer react to vertex / face color for dual / multi-colored print?

I was always wondering why dual-colored prints have to be so complicated and wasteful, with all the extra walls at the interior that nobody sees. If the slicer would be a bit smarter to separate vertex or face colors over some table mappings to extruder 1/2/x it should work too? No separate models would be needed, no waste, easier modeling... There is probably a good reason for this, but I could not find any by just googling it. Maybe an expert can elaborate? 




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    Posted · Why does no slicer react to vertex / face color for dual / multi-colored print?

    On paper it seems like an elegant solution. However you have to consider that vertex color information is only possible in select 3D mesh formats. There are not many CAD packages out there within the grasp of most FFF printer owners that have the power to color vertexes with any kind of reliability - and within budget. Most have a hard enough time just getting their mesh to be water-tight. Furthermore, once you start sharing a design or people remix it to change holes sizes etc, it's another opportunity to mess up the vertex coloring, assuming the original author's was right/good to begin with.


    All of this stuff is still in its infancy. Only in the past year or two has multi-color/material been within the grasp of most & it gets better every day. Prusa has some pretty cool innovations in the past year. Even the way in which it is handled by the machine is getting better by adopting parallel tech - take the Mark2 for example, which borrows some kinetic coupling and CNC toolchanger concepts for the UM2 - no prime towers...no ooze shields, no in your face brick of waste. 


    Looking at the big picture, developers have to cover every style of FFF out there & it's an incredible amount of processing that has to be done to slice and be reliable. Unfortunately the lowest common denominator, such as average PC 'horsepower' often wins out when it comes to appealing to the most number of people...so additional vertex color info would probably bog things down - and it wouldn't work for formats such as STL that don't even have vertex color info by definition, although there are special exceptions to this irrelevant to 3DP.

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    Posted · Why does no slicer react to vertex / face color for dual / multi-colored print?

    I see the point of having different meshes loaded as different colors, i.e. tire and wheel-rim, so I don't want to replace this way of multi color/material print. Rather add it as an option. But as you mentioned, we are at infancy stage here and there is room for improvement. As there seems to be no technical show-stopper to this, all major slicers out there could support i.e. the Attribute Byte Cound in STL as face color and many free designer tools would adopt quickly as it is trivial to add. Meshlab already supports it this way. Plus the color would have no impact on mesh cleanliness. Smart slicers could even use infill this way to prime the extruder for tech like Prusa's multi-color. I am sure even Mark2 would profit as less interface walls need to be drawn, so faster prints and less material!


    As multi-color gets more and more popular we should not dismiss options just because everything else is complicated enough. The money that goes into this market rises too, so at one point this pure software upgrade could be seen as market-advantage, and I don't want to see big companies "claim" this as proprietary tech and everybody starts doing the same thing differently.


    It's "just" a software change, right?


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    • 3 weeks later...
    Posted · Why does no slicer react to vertex / face color for dual / multi-colored print?

    I'm not sure if colouring/dual extrusion is in the STL specification (I don't think so, that's why multiple STL's are used to solve this in most softwares).

    A better solution would be to use the 3MF container format, which supports this in it's specification, and also Cura supports it.

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