Mechatronics In Large Format 3D Printing
3D-print faster with better linear motion and mechatronics
One of the great things about being in research and development is reaching a goal only to see another goal post in the distance. This just so happens to be the case in our pursuit of lower print times. To start, we offer a short history lesson and then discuss our present and future goals.
Lead screws, motors, and mechatronics
Lead screws were the first area where we saw room for improvement. Originally, we were using a 10 mm pitch leadscrew to drive the motion on the X and Y axis. By switching to a 25 mm pitch, we improved two areas of concern. The first was an obvious speed increase. The second was lower motor RPMs by 2.5 times. That helped to solve the previous problem of screw whip, which, with a 1-meter stroke, was a real concern.
Past mentions of these motors can be seen in this press release: SurePrint Servo upgrade! We knew from the beginning that these motors would be a huge hit with our customer base. The advantages begin with a closed loop system with positional accuracy, and 85% more torque! Most impressive in terms of speed and accuracy! The final words: There’s always something more we can do to improve the process.
Building on the successes of lead screw and motors, we can see that key elements to successful large format 3D printing are the combination of accurate mechanical components and drive mechanisms with repeatable smooth motors and motion control. Past reports by Forbes have shown that the 3D printing market will grow, resulting in a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18 percent. Other institutions predict an even more aggressive CARG of 34 percent. Manufacturers and design engineers have emerged as key drivers of this growth, with demands that include:
- Enhanced print quality
- Increased print speeds
- Larger print areas
The answer to these demands is found in the growing importance and implementation of mechatronics. You can see more details on mechatronics by viewing the webinar: What is Mechatronics’ Role in 3D Printing? For additional information on industrial strength mechanics and electronics that are built into the large format 3D printers from 3D Platform, please watch this video from the managing editor of Design World Magazine, as she interviews the vice president of sales and marketing for PBC Linear.
A nozzle diameter of 0.25 mm is nice for doing detailed work, but our customers tended to be more industrial, requiring bigger and bigger parts. We adjusted up to a 1.2 mm nozzle and as a result, the print times started to fall precipitously. One additional benefit was that the parts were getting much stronger. The following short video addresses nozzle sizes and their corresponding print times.
We further investigated just how big we could go with our nozzle sizes. Since we were using a 2.88 mm diameter filament, a 2.5 mm nozzle seemed reasonable. Our reaction was to be amazed by this 2.5 mm nozzle. In other words, this is really cool, and further detail are forthcoming.