Up to now, 3D creators have experimented with hydrographics, ultrasonic misting, and water marbling as methods to make Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)-created objects extra visually fascinating. Now, an Austrian-based group is experimenting with utilizing inkjet printing robots to beautify designers’ creations. The mixture of FFF for dimensional accuracy in addition to toughness and inkjet for aesthetics may very well be a really highly effective one certainly.
In a paper from the 2018 Fraunhofer Direct Digital Manufacturing Convention in Berlin, the crew detailed their efforts in creating a robotic that may acknowledge and stylize curves like an knowledgeable artist. This robotic would then apply inkjet inks to present prints.
Present Strategies for Placing Designs on FFF Surfaces
At the moment, the commonest choices for beautifying 3D printed objects are utilizing lasers, sizzling air, or chemical or mechanical processes. However since 3D printing and inkjet printing are each digital processes, utilizing the latter would enable completely different designs to be utilized to every distinctive object, and probably on a big scale.
Whereas this appears easy sufficient, inkjet printing is a selected problem on 3D objects with curved surfaces. Of a number of proposed options to beat this drawback, the group first took motion with creating a robot-powered Inkjet system.
For the robotic’s , the crew selected a Dimatix Printer with Ricoh Gen four printing head. This printhead was chosen for its capability for use in a tilted place (important for printing on a curved floor), built-in ink heating system, and its compact dimensions. The pinnacle’s smaller dimension allowed for higher management between the printing head and the printing floor.
Photographs had been ready for the robotic utilizing a software program module that transformed vector graphics into raster graphics. Raster photos are these made up of an oblong grid of pixels and are the alternative of vector graphics, that are made up of strains, curves, and 2D factors. As soon as the graphics’ resolutions had been transformed, coloration channels separated, and coloration administration processes executed, printing with the robotic may start.
Take a look at Outcomes
First, the system’s motion was examined by printing on a flat polymeric foil. As a consequence of vibrations within the robotic’s motion, the printed droplet design didn’t come out completely straight (as desired) and every line was barely completely different based mostly on the colour used.
That is as a result of Ricoh Gen’s nozzle design that has nozzle row 2 resting between nozzle row 1. These distinct rows may be provided with completely different colours of ink, nonetheless the spacing between rows (about 529μm) signifies that ink will not be jetted on the similar time. Whereas the end result was not excellent, the crew famous that the configuration was nonetheless serviceable and that “encouraging outcomes may very well be obtained” with it.
For printing on a 3D object, the crew selected to brighten a tennis shoe with a grass-like sample on the toe and inside and outer quarters. Utilizing the identical printhead mounted on a Common Robots UR10, Stäubli, and Kuka robotic programs, the top product was encouraging, if not vaguely paying homage to the T-shirt spray artwork you see in kiosks at your native mall.
The crew famous too that whereas this configuration was useful sufficient, it was removed from optimum because it concerned close to fixed motion of the printhead’s orientation, usually removed from the best 90° sideways place.
The Way forward for 3D Inkjet Robots (and of Artwork?)
Whereas it nonetheless is perhaps a while earlier than we see vivid and exquisite ink designs on complicated and curvy 3D printed surfaces, the early outcomes are encouraging. Like with 3D printing itself, the probabilities are limitless, and it’s not too arduous to think about that inkjet printing onto FFF objects may grow to be an entire different artwork type in and unto itself. One may additionally use inkjet heads to use conductive supplies, coatings and maybe even total electronics to present FFF components. By combining the toughness, energy, low value and sturdiness of FFF components with the power of inkjet so as to add many alternative sorts of inks this course of may basically revolutionize 3D printing. By separating out the method into two steps we may see useful components with consumer-friendly esthetics emerge. This can be a enormous step ahead for 3D printing and lots of extra groups ought to have a look at seeing their 3D printing problem as one thing that may very well be solved with a number of applied sciences as a substitute of only one.
Till then, the Austrian crew (and possibly many prefer it) are optimizing every step and part of their course of. They’ll additionally, after all, be doing loads of testing till they’ve their cutting-edge course of all the way down to a high-quality artwork.
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