Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel
 
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Tango
(@tango)
Reputable Member
Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

I'm aware this may be printer and software specific, so if it needs to be moved to a different section, I understand. (For reference, I'm using a Mks 3.5 and PrusaSlicer, which I keep updated.)

I have not yet done any multi-filament printing, but now there are a few projects I'd like to do that would work much better with 2 or more colors. They're all variations on a theme: A panel that might include holes where switches would go, and labels for those switches. I don't need Off and On labels, since that's intuitive, but I'd like to be able to make a black pane with at least one other color filament used to print labels for the switches.

Knowing nothing about this, I'm thinking the labels would have to be put down on top of the last layer of the printed panel, but if it's possible to leave a recess in that panel that is filled with another color filament to make a label, that'd also be nice to be able to do.

Are there terms I should be specifically searching for to get good information for doing this on Prusa printers with PrusaSlicer? Are there tips or links anyone could share to help me learn about how to do this? What are the limits to this - what kind of things are easy to do and what are the nightmares or are not possible to do?

Posted : 12/05/2024 3:43 am
JP Guitars
(@jp-guitars)
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RE:

The way I have done it, is to make the text separate bodies in the CAD program. The process is this:

  1. Design your part without the text
  2. Put the text on where you want it as a sketch 
  3. Use that text to cut recesses into the part, I normal do it 0.4mm so two layers.
  4. Use that text again to create new bodies to fill those recesses, that usual means you are going to do a -0.4mm extrusion. Make sure this is "new body" not the more common "join"
  5. Export everything as a single stl file
  6. Set the main part to nozzle 1
  7. Set the letters to nozzle 2

Hopefully that makes sense. I've only done it so far using manual changes, but the logic should work exactly the same with less fiddling about with an MMU. My MMU is currently in a FedEx facility in Germany so I will find out shortly.

Another alternative is to use raised lettering but i don'tthink it looks as good. In which case when you get you step three you extrude the letters positively how ever thick you want them but join them. Then in the slicer you put a colour change before the lettering layer. You can actually do this directly in the slicer but I have found it harder to get the layout correct.

Posted : 12/05/2024 5:05 am
Tango
(@tango)
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Topic starter answered:
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

I follow most of this - questions interspersed:

Posted by: @jp-guitars

The way I have done it, is to make the text separate bodies in the CAD program. The process is this:

  1. Design your part without the text
  2. Put the text on where you want it as a sketch 
  3. Use that text to cut recesses into the part, I normal do it 0.4mm so two layers.
  4. Use that text again to create new bodies to fill those recesses, that usual means you are going to do a -0.4mm extrusion. Make sure this is "new body" not the more common "join"

So once I've designed the panel, I create a new object that is just the text I want. I use that part to create a recess in the panel, but also use it as a text object that would fit into the text "hole" I've just put into the panel.

If I understand this right, I like that I could put the text down in the panel so it doesn't stick up above it, or only sticks out a little bit, if I want it to.

You talk about doing 0.4mm and two layers. I take it, due to nozzle size and so on, that there's a practical limit to just how many layers you can print for any kind of inset lettering or design? (I was thinking 3-4 might be nice to make things a bit smoother in case there is any issue with the 1st layer, there'd be at least 2 more to cover it up.

  1. Export everything as a single stl file
  2. Set the main part to nozzle 1

So I'm specifying nozzles, even though I only have one nozzle? (And don't have an MMU yet - that'll be a while.)

  1. Set the letters to nozzle 2

Hopefully that makes sense. I've only done it so far using manual changes, but the logic should work exactly the same with less fiddling about with an MMU. My MMU is currently in a FedEx facility in Germany so I will find out shortly.

A lot of it does, but I'm still trying to be sure I get the process. So the slicer will detect that it's 2 separate objects and by specifying the different nozzles, it realizes, I'll need to change filaments for it at some point? And can it print the 2nd color in the text indent in the panel after it's printed a layer or two above the base of the text? I won't have to change the filament after each level, will I?

 

Another alternative is to use raised lettering but i don'tthink it looks as good. In which case when you get you step three you extrude the letters positively how ever thick you want them but join them. Then in the slicer you put a colour change before the lettering layer. You can actually do this directly in the slicer but I have found it harder to get the layout correct.

In my head, I've been picturing raised lettering and inset lettering. I agree with you, at least in the images I get in my head: The inset lettering looks better, but I could also see why I might use both on one panel. I would think the process you describe would work with more than 1 text color, so it'd be possible to label a switch with raised lettering, but the on/off labels would be inset. Or, since this is for a dashboard on my golf cart, the ignition switch and forward/reverse switch, which are critical, could be labelled with raised lettering and the light switches, which aren't as critical, could be labeled with inset lettering.

Posted : 12/05/2024 7:45 am
JP Guitars
(@jp-guitars)
Reputable Member
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

No, point two is a sketch not a new object, it might be called something different in other CAD programs but in Fusion and FreeCAD it is a sketch, it is, as the name implies a two dimensional representation of what you are about to do. You use that sketch to do two operations, the first cuts a recess into the panel in the shape of the letters, the second creates new bodies to fill those recesses. If you are familiar with Fusion I have made a little example which if you follow along the time line you can see the various steps.

The slicer will detect you have many bodies (objects) as each letter becomes a body, if you look at the example I have named them all so you can see what they are. You then allocate a nozzle to each body, think nozzle=colour. When you print it there will be an unload and load for each colour swap.

The reason I go 0.4mm is to avoid too many colour swaps, as an example lets say we are printing a black panel with white writing, I always print with text on the build plate to get the swaps over early.

  • Layer 1 print panel in black, change to white, print text
  • Layer 2 print text in white, change to black, print everything else
  • So two swaps

If we add one extra layer of colour we get

  • Layer 1 print panel in black, change to white, print text
  • Layer 2 print text in white, change to black, print panel
  • Layer 3 print panel, change to white, print text
  • Layer 4 change to black print everything else
  • So four changes

To get your head around the slice and print part of the process I can do no better than refer you to Joan's excellent write up here: https://forum.prusa3d.com/forum/prusaslicer/manual-multicolor/

Posted : 12/05/2024 8:14 am
Tango
(@tango)
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Topic starter answered:
RE:

I'll experiment with this Sunday or Monday, right now, before I go to sleep -

I think we're talking about a similar process.  I don't use Fusion, I use Blender. If I'm going to cut a shape out of a panel in Blender, I have to create a full 3D object. I can't do that with a 2D object. (Well, not so it's effective at all.)

It sounds like the slicer is also smart enough to order the colors in a layer, so it prints what it needs on a new layer with the current color, then switches to the other, which is nice.

Also, from what you're saying, and from what I see on the screwdriver bit holder in the thread you link to, I take it you're getting good, smooth, letters with just 2 layers?

I'd love to get an MMU for this kind of thing, but I'm at a point where I'm still working to get my business going. Once it starts doing well, I'll upgrade to a Mks 4, move the 3.5 into the house, in my study, for printing tests and so on, and the "real" work will be done on a new 4. At that point I'll also get an MMU for the 4.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Tango
Posted : 12/05/2024 8:28 am
JP Guitars
(@jp-guitars)
Reputable Member
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

No idea how you would do it in Blender, I only really do functional parts so CAD software is the logical way to go rather to 3d modelling with Blender.

Yeah the slicer tries to minimise swaps, so whatever colour it finishes with on layer n it starts with if possible on n+1

Posted : 12/05/2024 8:33 am
ssill2
(@ssill2)
Noble Member
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

you really don't want to be doing manual changes for very many layers when you are printing multiple colors/materials per layer.   I used to have an MMU2S before I upgraded two of my printers to MK4,  and I bought the 5T XL to avoid all the MMU nonsense.  For anything more than a couple layers manual filament changes are just to cumbersome.   I still do manual changes on the MK4 for things like tpu keychains.  where you're only talking about 1 or 2 changes.   For anything more than that, or if I'm printing multiple colors/materials per layer,  that's where something like an MMU or the XL are going to be way better.   The MMU is so wasteful though.  Not to mention finicky.  I'm sure the MMU3 has improved things, but it still fundamentally works the same way is the the 2S, which is really just a big kludge.

Posted : 12/05/2024 12:26 pm
Tango
(@tango)
Reputable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

I think I've put it all together in my head. Just one point I want to be sure of: People are finding that only two layers of the inset lettering or shape is enough to make it look good - it doesn't look thin and there aren't tiny gaps between the filament laid down on the two levels that look bad?

Posted : 13/05/2024 1:14 am
JP Guitars
(@jp-guitars)
Reputable Member
RE:

This is a print I made (not my design), two layers of colour.

https://media.printables.com/media/comment_images/76/98998e-aeac-45b2-8fdb-fb61481a6364/thumbs/inside/1600x1200/jpg/20231203_114443.webp

Posted : 13/05/2024 7:02 am
Tango
(@tango)
Reputable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

 

Posted by: @jp-guitars

This is a print I made (not my design), two layers of colour.

https://media.printables.com/media/comment_images/76/98998e-aeac-45b2-8fdb-fb61481a6364/thumbs/inside/1600x1200/jpg/20231203_114443.webp

Just 2 layers? Great! Answers my concerns completely!

Posted : 13/05/2024 3:56 pm
fuchsr
(@fuchsr)
Famed Member
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

I would say it depends on the colors of choice. I usually go with three layers. If the fill-in color is very light, I've had issues with just 2 layers.

Posted : 13/05/2024 7:23 pm
Tango
(@tango)
Reputable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: Multi-Filament Printing - Adding Labels on a Panel

Just adding that I wimped out. I started looking into some work I'm planning on selling and a few other factors and bought an MMU3 - I figure I can justify the cost and that, even though I'm calling it experimental and research for now, I think it'll pay for itself at some point.

Posted : 22/06/2024 6:03 am
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