3-D printing has the potential to revolutionize product design and manufacturing in an unlimited vary of fields—from customized parts for shopper merchandise, to 3-D printed dental merchandise and bone and medical implants that would save lives. Nevertheless, the method additionally creates a considerable amount of costly and unsustainable waste and takes a very long time, making it troublesome for 3-D printing to be applied on a large scale.
Every time a 3-D printer produces customized objects, particularly unusually-shaped merchandise, it additionally must print helps–printed stands that steadiness the item because the printer creates layer by layer, serving to preserve its form integrity. Nevertheless, these helps have to be manually eliminated after printing, which requires ending by hand and can lead to form inaccuracies or floor roughness. The supplies the helps are produced from typically can’t be re-used, and they also’re discarded, contributing to the rising drawback of 3-D printed waste materials.
For the primary time, researchers in USC Viterbi’s Daniel J. Epstein Division of Industrial and Methods Engineering have created a low-cost reusable help methodology to cut back the necessity for 3-D printers to print these wasteful helps, vastly bettering cost-effectiveness and sustainability for 3-D printing.
The work, led by Yong Chen, professor of commercial and programs engineering and PhD pupil Yang Xu, has been printed in Additive Manufacturing.
Conventional 3-D printing utilizing the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) method, prints layer-by-layer, immediately onto a static metallic floor. The brand new prototype as an alternative makes use of a programmable, dynamically-controlled floor made from moveable metallic pins to exchange the printed helps. The pins stand up because the printer progressively builds the product. Chen mentioned that testing of the brand new prototype has proven it saves round 35% in supplies used to print objects.
“I work with biomedical medical doctors who 3-D print utilizing biomaterials to construct tissue or organs,” Chen mentioned. “Numerous the fabric they use are very costly–we’re speaking small bottles that value between $500 to $1000 every.”
“For traditional FDM printers, the supplies value is one thing like $50 per kilogram, however for bioprinting, it’s extra like $50 per gram. So if we will save 30% on materials that will have gone into printing these helps, that may be a large value saving for 3-D printing for biomedical functions,” Chen mentioned.
Along with the environmental and value impacts of fabric wastage, conventional 3-D printing processes utilizing helps can also be time-consuming, Chen mentioned.
“Once you’re 3-D printing complicated shapes, half of the time you might be constructing the elements that you simply want, the opposite half of the time you’re constructing the helps. So with this technique, we’re not constructing the helps. Subsequently, when it comes to printing time, we’ve a financial savings of about 40%.”
Chen mentioned that comparable prototypes developed prior to now relied on particular person motors to boost every of the mechanical helps, leading to extremely energy-intensive merchandise that have been additionally rather more costly to buy, and thus not cost-effective for 3-D printers.
“So for those who had 100 shifting pins and the price of each motor is round $10, the entire thing is $1,000, along with 25 management boards to regulate 100 totally different motors. The entire thing would value nicely over $10,000.”
The analysis crew’s new prototype works by working every of its particular person helps from a single motor that strikes a platform. The platform raises teams of metallic pins on the similar time, making it an economical resolution. Primarily based on the product design, this system’s software program would inform the consumer the place they should add a collection of metallic tubes into the bottom of the platform. The place of those tubes would then decide which pins would increase to outlined heights to finest help the 3-D printed product, whereas additionally creating the least quantity of wastage from printed helps. On the finish of the method, the pins could be simply eliminated with out damaging the product.
Chen mentioned the system may be simply tailored for big scale manufacturing, corresponding to within the automotive, aerospace and yacht industries.
“Individuals are already constructing FDM printers for big measurement automotive and ship our bodies, in addition to for shopper merchandise corresponding to furnishings. As you may think about, their constructing instances are actually lengthy—we’re speaking about a complete day,” Chen mentioned. “So if it can save you half of that, your manufacturing time might be diminished to half a day. Utilizing our method might convey loads of advantages for this kind of 3-D printing.”
Chen mentioned the crew had additionally not too long ago utilized for a patent for the brand new know-how. The analysis was co-authored by Ziqi Wang, beforehand a visiting pupil at USC, from the College of Pc and Communication Sciences, EPFL Switzerland, and Siyu Gong from USC Viterbi.
Reference: “Reusable help for additive manufacturing” by Yang Xu, Ziqi Wang, Siyu Gong and Yong Chen, 12 January 2021, Additive Manufacturing.