Programmable Filament: Multicolor & Multimaterial 3D Printing with No {Hardware} Upgrades –

Programmable Filament: Multicolor & Multimaterial 3D Printing with No Hardware Upgrades -

Most of us are still excited about the opportunity to toss aside the monochrome fused filament (FFF) manufacturing and explore the potential of multi-color, multi-material printing, which is usually found in high-end binder jet and inkjet printing. Technologies is reserved. While multi-color printing has been a more sophisticated and complex technology in the past, it often gives the user more options with additional hardware.

As always, accessibility and affordability allow new hardware, software, and materials to really take off. With this in mind, a research team from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University (also working with researchers from Japan) has developed an interactive system for 3D printing with multiple colors, multiple materials using a single printhead – and without Hardware updates necessary.

Programmable filament works with existing 3D printers and combines multiple filament segments into a single thread. The process begins by simply printing a new strand of filament, which is made up of various strands of filament that are already there. This new multi-colored, multi-material filament wire can then be used to print a multi-colored multi-material object. The technology is supposed to work with cheaper FDM 3D printers with a nozzle and is based on computer-aided analyzes and experiments, as described in “Programmable filaments: Printed filaments for 3D printing with multiple materials”.

Programmable Filament is a novel 3D printing technique that allows users to 3D print a multi-material object using an FDM printer without any hardware modifications. (Left to right) First, users generate a filament containing multiple materials to feed into the extruder and then print an object in 3D in color.

While many may remind you of the Palette technology with open source software released by Mosaic Manufacturing in 2018, the researchers here stated that they were inspired by DasMia, an Instructables user who innovates with a thin, wire-like filament:

“… We are expanding the concept of making a programmable filament that combines multiple segments of different materials into a single filament based on the user’s specifications (referred to as printed filament). We show that the printed filament can be used in the same way as a traditional filament, i.e. extruded through a standard nozzle, with no hardware changes. “

While DasMia has focused on making a pretty awesome looking rainbow filament, and Mosaic offers users a multitude of opportunities to innovate after upgrading their systems and relying on Canvas Hub for assistance, Programmable Filament aims to streamline and reduce previous double-print challenges over moving and mixing colors and materials between segments. They also aim to offer users more options, overriding some of the limiting factors of previous technologies and methods. This also reverses more common but less effective techniques that focus on post-processing with brushing and painting. By preprocessing the filament, the printer does the job of making multi-faceted items.

Printing a filament: (a) Printing starts with a color. (B) Printing stops after all segments have finished printing, so that the user can change the material. (cd) The 3D printer prints the remaining segments to avoid colliding with earlier segments. (e) then prints stitches to join adjacent segments.

When segments are joined together to form a filament, a long spiral is created. The authors claim this can be used just like standard 3D printing filaments. As a programmable filament, however, the material can be tailored to the required properties such as thickness, roundness and more. Users can change the print path accordingly and specify how much material is needed to print segments and how long the spiral is.

An exemplary printed filament and object printed with it: The layers of (a) and (b) are printed in the same segment length (200 mm), but appear with different numbers of layers.

While this process opens up new possibilities for users, the implications for the future of filaments are enormous, as on-demand materials can be created that can be programmed and customized in minute detail.

“In this future filament supply chain, customers and manufacturers can also work closely together to give manufacturers the opportunity to become aware of the emerging requirements in the manufacture of new materials for mass production,” explained the researchers.

This work was accepted for the ACM UIST 20 conference on October 20-23, 2020. You can find more information about the HCI (human-computer interaction) virtual event here.

[Source / Images: “Programmable Filament: Printed Filaments for Multi-material 3D Printing”]

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