3-D printing has the potential to revolutionize product design and manufacturing in an enormous vary of fields—from customized elements for client 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 tough for 3-D printing to be carried out 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 article because the printer creates layer by layer, serving to keep its form integrity. Nevertheless, these helps have to be manually eliminated after printing, which requires ending by hand and may end up in form inaccuracies or floor roughness. The supplies the helps are made out of usually can’t be re-used, and they also’re discarded, contributing to the rising downside of 3-D printed waste materials.
For the primary time, researchers in USC Viterbi’s Daniel J. Epstein Division of Industrial and Techniques Engineering have created a low-cost reusable assist technique to scale back the necessity for 3-D printers to print these wasteful helps, vastly enhancing cost-effectiveness and sustainability for 3-D printing.
The work, led by Yong Chen, professor of commercial and programs engineering and PhD scholar Yang Xu, has been printed in Additive Manufacturing.
Conventional 3-D printing utilizing the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) approach, prints layer-by-layer, straight onto a static steel floor. The brand new prototype as a substitute makes use of a programmable, dynamically-controlled floor product of moveable steel 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 docs who 3-D print utilizing biomaterials to construct tissue or organs,” Chen mentioned. “Lots of 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 are able to 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 price impacts of fabric wastage, conventional 3-D printing processes utilizing helps can be time-consuming, Chen mentioned.
“Once you’re 3-D printing complicated shapes, half of the time you might be constructing the components that you just want, the opposite half of the time you’re constructing the helps. So with this technique, we’re not constructing the helps. Due to this fact, by way of printing time, we’ve got 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 had been additionally far more costly to buy, and thus not cost-effective for 3-D printers.
“So in case you had 100 transferring pins and the price of each motor is round $10, the entire thing is $1,000, along with 25 management boards to manage 100 completely different motors. The entire thing would value properly over $10,000.”
The analysis group’s new prototype works by operating every of its particular person helps from a single motor that strikes a platform. The platform raises teams of steel pins on the identical time, making it a cheap answer. Primarily based on the product design, this system’s software program would inform the person the place they should add a sequence of steel tubes into the bottom of the platform. The place of those tubes would then decide which pins would increase to outlined heights to finest assist the 3-D printed product, whereas additionally creating the least quantity of wastage from printed helps. On the finish of the method, the pins might be simply eliminated with out damaging the product.
Chen mentioned the system is also simply tailored for giant scale manufacturing, corresponding to within the automotive, aerospace and yacht industries.
“Persons are already constructing FDM printers for giant measurement automobile and ship our bodies, in addition to for client 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 could possibly be lowered to half a day. Utilizing our method may convey a variety of advantages for this sort of 3-D printing.”
Chen mentioned the group had additionally just lately utilized for a patent for the brand new expertise. The analysis was co-authored by Ziqi Wang, beforehand a visiting scholar at USC, from the College of Pc and Communication Sciences, EPFL Switzerland, and Siyu Gong from USC Viterbi.
Reference: “Reusable assist for additive manufacturing” by Yang Xu, Ziqi Wang, Siyu Gong and Yong Chen, 12 January 2021, Additive Manufacturing.