High Speed Multidirectional 3D Printing 2019
Rapid prototyping isn’t rapid. It can take hours to 3D print objects. This proof of concept demonstrates the viability of an approach to 3D printing that can reduce print times significantly, which we call High Speed Multidirectional 3D printing.
The initial impetus for this project was the NSF grant proposal “Synchronizing Virtual and Physical Models for Industrial Shape Design" (currently under review), which was developed in collaboration between Ian Gonsher (ENGN) and Gabriel Taubin (ENGN). Within the initial version of this grant, we proposed several strategies for radically reducing print times. We explored many strategies, including: low resolution high speed printing employing an adapted extruder; “voxel printing” that used a combination of an array of control surfaces to create forms that could be vacuumed formed, resulting in almost instantaneous prints; a strategy that used software to divide the part so that it could be printed on multiple machines and reassembled; and an approach that used a combination of lasercutting and stacking to achieve a lower resolution, but higher speed print. We also explored the possibility of combining some or all of these strategies in order to minimize print time. But the approach we thought had the most potential was what evolved into what we now call High Speed Multidirectional 3D Printing.
By printing outward, rather than upward, we can reduce print times dramatically. In order to do so, we needed to overcome the technical challenge of printing against gravity. This prototyped demonstrates that these technical challenges can be addressed. Our prototype prints horizontally, in opposing directions, cutting print time in half. Future iterations could feature multiple extruders, reducing print time to a fraction of what it currently is..
Our prototype demonstrates the following:
1) That we can print horizontally, rather than vertically, allowing us to print in multiple directions.
2) This is accomplished by developing a surface to print off of. In this version we use cardboard, but future iterations could employ a “kernel,” off of which we can print in all directions.
3) We also developed a technique for better adhesion for printing against gravity by using glue sticks to help adhere the initial print.
It is our belief that this two directional printer, which cuts print time in half, can be scaled up with more print heads to make print times a fraction of what they are now. Instead of waiting hours for a print to complete, you could print an object in minutes or even seconds.
(PI) Ian Gonsher