Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process where, conventionally, layers are built atop of other layers to form a three-dimensional (3D) part. Normally, the material cannot support itself, hence the layers themselves or a support material support subsequent layers or overhanging features.
The part is sliced and a print path containing the geometric information for the XY-stage of the printer is generated in the first step of the process. This topic has been covered extensively and is considered by many as solved. One issue with this traditional approach is that it assumes a flat substrate to print on, which makes the print path generation relatively straight-forward. While people printed on arbitrary structures before, not much research looked into the automated print path generation for such tasks. Printing on other parts that either remain with the printed part or are taken away afterwards can have several advantages. Some of them are to reduce the printing time, to increase the accuracy, to make use of synergetic effects such as conductivity, or to repair parts. An example surface is shown in Figure 1, on which arbitrary objects could be printed, such as antennas. When looking at the algorithm, it needs to be distinguished between printing individual filaments that don’t touch, as shown in the figure, and bulky structures with layers of continuously connected material. For the former, a previous project in the group generated such an algorithm.
The steps are defined as follows. 1. Literature survey on a. Print path generation algorithms b. Work that covers the different scenarios of print path generation 2. Testing the output on a real 3D printer in the lab and printing representative sample parts. Parts to print on can include mathematically defined surfaces or 3D-scanned objects 3. Extension of the algorithm for bulky, multi-layer and multi-material parts 4. Testing and verification of the extended algorithm.
The first part of this current project will be to test and use this generator on a 3D printer with multiple examples to demonstrate its functionality. The second part will extend the algorithm to bulky, multi-layer and multi-material parts of arbitrary shapes. In a third part, and this depends on the type of the thesis, optimization will be used to design parts particularly suited for the algorithm, such as a crack infill.