Researchers Decrease Support Structures for Models Through Multidirectional 3D Printing

An illustration for the idea of the algorithm: (a) a progressively determined planar clipping results for generating the optimized base planes, and (b) the inverse order of clipping planes results in a sequence of regions to be fabricated where the printing direction of each region is the normal of its base plane. The orientation of a printing head is fixed during the procedure of physical fabrication. The parts under fabrication are reoriented to realize the multidirectional 3D printing.

In most planar-layer based 3D printing systems, material collapse is prevented on large overhangs by adding support structures to the bottom. But support structures in single-material 3D printing methods have some major issues, like material waste and the possibility of surface damage. This can be helped by introducing rotation and turning the hardware into a multidirectional system, where models are subdivided into separate regions and each one is 3D printed along a different direction.

L-R: Snowman models fabricated by an FDM 3D printer and the team’s multidirectional 3D printing system by adding only one rotational axis on the same 3D printer.

A team of researchers from Tsinghua University, TU Delft, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed two types of multidirectional 3D printing hardware systems: one modified from an off-the-shelf FDM 3D printer with an added rotational degree-of-freedom (DOF), and the other implemented on an industrial robotic arm to simulate a tilting table for two rotational DOFs. They outlined their work in a paper titled “General Support-Effective Decomposition for Multi-Directional 3D Printing.”

The abstract reads, “We present a method to fabricate general models by multi-directional 3D printing systems, in which different regions of a model are printed along different directions. The core of our method is a support-effective volume decomposition algorithm that targets on minimizing the usage of support-structures for the regions with large overhang. Optimal volume decomposition represented by a sequence of clipping planes is determined by a beam-guided searching algorithm according to manufacturing constraints. Different from existing approaches that need manually assemble 3D printed components into a final model, regions decomposed by our algorithm can be automatically fabricated in a collision-free way on a multi-directional 3D printing system. Our approach is general and can be applied to models with loops and handles. For those models that cannot completely eliminate support for large overhang, an algorithm is developed to generate special supporting structures for multi-directional 3D printing. We developed two different hardware systems to physically verify the effectiveness of our method: a Cartesian-motion based system and an angular-motion based system. A variety of 3D models have been successfully fabricated on these systems.”

The researchers wanted to create a 3D printing system that would be able to “add rotational motion into the material accumulation process” to ensure fewer supports, if any. To do so, they created a general volume decomposition algorithm, which “can be generally applied to models with different shape and topology.”

“Moreover, a support generation algorithm has been developed for multidirectional 3D printing,” the researchers explained. “The techniques developed here can speedup the manufacturing of 3D printed freeform models by saving the time of producing and removing supports.”

Progressive results of fabricating models on 4DOF multidirectional 3D printing system and a 5DOF system realized on a robotic arm.

The research team’s paper made several technical contributions, including their support-effective algorithm, which is based on beam-guided search and can be applied to 3D models with handles and loops. In addition, they also summarized decomposition criteria through their multidirectional 3D printing process and created “a region-projection based method” for generating supports for multidirectional 3D printing.

There are, however, some drawbacks involved when changing from one 3D printing direction to another, such as slowing down the process, which is why the researchers “prefer a solution with less number of components, which can be achieve by considering the following criterion of clipping.”

A comparison of decomposition results obtained from three schemes introduced in this paper.

“After relaxing the hard-constraint of support-free into minimizing the area of risky faces as described in JG, the scheme of generating support is considerately vital while both feasibility and reliability should be guaranteed,” the researchers wrote. “To tackle this problem, we propose a new pattern called projected supports that ensures the fabrication of remained overhanging regions through a collision-free multi-directional 3D printing.”

The decomposed and 3D printed results fabricated by the system with 4DOF and 5DOF in motion.

The team applied their algorithm to several models, and were able to reduce, and even eliminate in some cases, the need for support structures. In addition, their method’s “computational efficiency” was on par with general 3D printing time.

“We present a volume decomposition framework for the support-effective fabrication of general models by multidirectional 3D printing,” the researchers concluded. “A beam-guided search is conducted in our approach to avoid local optimum when computing decomposition. Different from prior work relying on a skeletal tree structure, our approach is general and can handle models with multiple loops and handles. Moreover, a support generation scheme has been developed in our framework to enable the fabrication of all models. Manufacturing constrains such as the number of rotational axes can be incorporated during the orientation sampling process. As a result, our algorithm supports both the 4DOF and the 5DOF systems. A variety of models have been tested on our approach as examples. Hareware setups have been developed to take the physical experiments for verifying the effectiveness of our system.”

Co-authors of the paper are Chenming Wu, Chengkai Dai, Guoxin Fang, Yong-Jin Liu, and Charlie C.L. Wang.

Discuss this research and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.


12 More Gifts for the Sophisticated People In Your Life

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This geometric wrist cuff will stun and delight even the most discerning of dressers. Also available in a Cube shape!

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Help the visionary in your life find the pinnacle of perfection wherever they go with this Fibonacci Spiral Pendant. Add a chain for a complete necklace look.

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Art lovers will adore this 3D head design inspired by MC Eschers’ Face Peel drawing.

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The post 12 More Gifts for the Sophisticated People In Your Life appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

3D Printed Capsule Diagnoses & Administers Drugs Via Smartphone

Researchers at MIT, Draper, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed an ingestible capsule that can doctors can control using Bluetooth wireless technology. In effect, the capsule could deliver drugs and sense environmental conditions while residing in a patient’s stomach for about a month. Even more fascinating is the fact that users can apparently control the […]

The post 3D Printed Capsule Diagnoses & Administers Drugs Via Smartphone appeared first on 3D Printing.

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Inside the 3D printed pill that livestreams health readings to your doctor

Could you swallow a 3D printed pill that collects data from the inside of your stomach? For two years, a team of researchers based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been developing a mini device capable of just that. Called “Gastric Resident Electronics” (GREs) these pills are designed to sit in the stomach […]

Interview with Fabio Sant´Ana of Farcco Tecnologia About Metal Printing and 3D Printing in Brazil

Fabio Sant´Ana is from Brazil a country we associate with beaches, football, and carnivals. Yet, the verdant green Carnival-land has much more potential than just being a fun place. Brazil produces aircraft, has growing international companies, a large auto industry, and a growing medical industry. Meanwhile, it has also had some tough years behind in politically and economically. For years Fabio has been trying to bring metal 3D printing and industrial 3D printing solutions to Brazil with Farcco Tecnologia. In this difficult economic environment, he’s been trying to get companies to industrialize metal 3D printing, trying to get companies to start making titanium medical devices in Brazil and doing what he can to 3D print Brazil.
Fabio started with a Precision Mechanics Degree and since then has worked in precision machining for over 25 years. He is a specialist in metal 3D printing and has a deep understanding of EBM in particular. He’s worked with a number of blue-chip companies in Brazil and has helped them to go from knowing next to nothing to industrializing 3D printing for manufacturing. Fabio is a part of the ASTM F42 Additive Manufacturing, ISO TC26, ABNT CEE-261 Manufatura Aditiva and ABNT CB-26 Odonto-Médico-Hospitalar standardization efforts and an expert in Design For Additive Manufacturing. 
What is Farcco Tecnologia?
Farcco Tecnologia is a company devoted to introducing Additive Manufacturing technologies to the Brazilian Industries,  it is specialized in real metal additive production technology,  and is really reaching out to every possible specialization in AM . The main focus is expanding the knowledge of Brazilian market. Farcco researches and finds the most important technologies thru shows, conferences , training and suppliers to make Brazilian Industries to reach the same level of capability and expertise found overseas .
What is the 3D printing market in Brazil like? 
The Brazilian Additive Manufacturing market is developing in slower pace, the last 8 years did hold Brazil back in terms of R&D. In a not growing, or more in a depressed economy, is hard for companies to justify investment in new,  and technology advanced, manufacturing capacities. Starting in 2018 with the new government , companies started to forecast economic growth for the next years and this made the industrial environment reach out to us, for 3D printing,  to revamp their production resources. In Brazil the medical market is the first adopter in additive and had the first equipment, this is being used for manufacturing titanium implants. During 2017 and 2018, more companies are beginning to understand the real advances of the technology and its benefits in quality, product development and cost saving features. Aerospace started to evaluate AM during 2018 and the first metal machine should be working in Q1 2019 . Most machines installed before this new boom time are in Universities and Research Institutes.
We see very few Brazillian 3D printing startups? How could this be improved? 
Brazil has a very limited investment capability, this is what holds us back, the startup environment is not well supported by banks and startups normally only rely on Private Equity and Angel Investments. AM is very capital intensive in case of equipment for startups and this makes it difficult to do.
Is metal 3D Printing increasing in Brazil?
Yes , companies have started to realize the beauty of the technology. Many companies are looking for information in that area,, and some have already started to R&D using smaller or cheaper machines to be able to develop and go for real production machines in a shorter time.
What advice would you give me if I’m an OEM or a materials company wanting to do business in Brazil?
Call me ! … Joking … anyway , Brazil is different in many ways. Lack of infrastructure and investment as well as a difficult tax structure create many entrance barriers for foreign companies , To find a very knowledgeable local partner is something that can keep the company on right track with the right information one can jump many steps and problems. To invest in training of locals to support the “pre” and “after” sales is also a good advice . Brazilian Industry is used to local support and short service time.
What opportunities do you see for Brazil in 3D printing?
“Most of the actual opportunities are in medical , so beside of metals, medical polymers and bio-printing can be better explored . We are growing also in Oil & Gas and Renewable Energy, both have good growth in Brazil , Additive has great features for these areas.”
You’ve been a long time EBM expert what do you see as some of the advantages compared to other metal technologies? 
The EBM process has some nice specific characteristics that benefit reactive materials such as titanium, it can supply more energy and generates up to 70 simultaneous melt pools. This is what lets you grow fast compared with other process that have 1 , 2 or 4 melt pools.  The way electron beam hits the powder is different than laser, that is basic light and has its particular ways of propagation reflection etc. In EBM energy loss is much lower that also benefits the process. EBM is a less precise in terms of geometry, but can stack parts filling the build chamber, another benefit in terms of production quantities and gives one more balanced building cycles. Each process has its advantages. Laser has a very good precision and also better finished surface, this can work well with steel and forms a less compact build cake what makes cleaning the powder easier in cases of something such as conformal cooling . In Additive Manufacturing each process has its right business case. Every technology has its niches and must be well understood to give you the best results.
 Are you excited about the new Arcam EBM systems?
The Q10+ and Q20+ have reached a very stable processing and performance. The Spectra is a big chamber focused on TiAl and bigger quantites. The products are all reaching a very mature state.
You’re not active in binder jetting metals, how come? 
Let me tell you how I started in Additive, I’ve been a machining guy since 1991 when I left the Precision Mechanics Technical High School. I’ve been supplying the market with CNC machining equipment since 1992 had to develop skills in 3D manufacturing since that time , from complex mass production processes to really difficult 5 axis applications all in my range. In 2013 a medical implants company R&D manager and friend came to me with a very crazy part he found in Europe and asked me how to make that thing. I told him ” I dont know , yet “. My Additive journey started in that day of 2013, after almost 6 years researching, learning, teaching and going all over the world to be able to implement additive equipment and technologies, I know that each technology has its case, binder jetting cases will appear, no doubt. But, for now, I don’t know yet.
You do work with Sciaky EBAM?
EBM has very good performance in medical and Aerospace, most of the companies in those segments are paying attention to EBM.  For larger structural parts Sciaky makes an EBAM based machine that melts wire forming near net shapes for posterior machining, its a processe that speeds up the production of this components a lot , it has potential to short by months the development and manufacturing of large titanium and other metals parts. In Brazil, we don’t have any Sciacky EBAM yet.
I see a lot of potential in using it to rejuvenate molds and blisks, but this is not used a lot?
I really agree with you, but the economics are against it right now, To use a DED head over a mold inside a CNC machining center makes more than sense. However, DED heads or Hybrid machines need economically to fight against a regular machining center that receives a mold filled by a very experienced welder. When you put that in your financial spreadsheet you have the answer why this is not being more used. The final shape and precision will come from the machining anyway, and you already have the welder in your payroll, so …
What do you think the potential of 3D printing?
“AM is a marvelous tech, I think we are only scratching the surface of the technology and the new designs made by biomimetcs and topology and generative systems will give us products we cannot even imagine now… so the sky is the limit.? 

3D Printed Capsules Deliver Drugs and Communicate via Bluetooth

One of the most interesting developments in medicine is the ability to customize drugs, and 3D printing has played a big role in the advancement of this kind of patient-specific capability. In a fascinating convergence of multiple forms of technology – including 3D printing – researchers at MIT, Draper University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a 3D printed ingestible capsule that can be controlled using Bluetooth technology. The capsule, which can be customized to deliver drugs, sense environmental conditions, or both, can sit in the patient’s stomach for at least a month. It can also transmit information and respond to instructions from a smartphone.

According to the researchers, these capsules could be used to deliver drugs to treat a variety of diseases, especially ones in which drugs must be taken over a long period of time. They could also be designed to sense things like infections or allergic reactions and then release a drug in response.

“Our system could provide closed-loop monitoring and treatment, whereby a signal can help guide the delivery of a drug or tuning the dose of a drug,” said Giovanni Traverso, Ph.D., a visiting scientist in MIT’s department of mechanical engineering, where he will be joining the faculty in 2019.

The capsules are designed to work with the Internet of Things, potentially communicating with other wearable and implantable medical devices, which could then transmit information to the patient’s or doctor’s smartphone.

“We are excited about this demonstration of 3D printing and of how ingestible technologies can help people through novel devices that facilitate mobile health applications,” said Robert Langer, ScD, the David H. Koch Institute professor and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

The research is documented in a paper entitled “3D-Printed Gastric Resident Electronics.” For several years, the research team has been working on the development of ingestible sensors and drug delivery capsules, which could replace long-term drugs that currently have to be injected. They could also be used for diseases like HIV and malaria, which have very strict drug dosing regimens.

In 2016, the research team designed a star-shaped capsule with six arms that fold up before being encased in a smooth capsule. After the patient swallows the capsule, it dissolves and the arms expand, allowing it to lodge in the stomach. In the new study, the researchers developed a similar device that expands into a Y shape, allowing it to stay in the stomach for about a month before breaking up. One of the arms of the Y includes four small compartments that can be loaded with a variety of drugs, packaged within polymers that allow them to be released gradually over several days. The researchers believe that they could also design the compartments to be opened remotely via Bluetooth.

The device can also carry sensors that monitor the gastric environment and send information via a wireless signal. In previous work, the researchers created sensors that can detect vital signs such as heart rate and breathing rate. In the new study, they designed the capsule to be able to monitor temperature and relay that information to a smartphone within arm’s reach.

“The limited connection range is a desirable security enhancement,” said lead author Yong Lin Kong, Ph.D, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor at the University of Utah. “The self-isolation of wireless signal strength within the user’s physical space could shield the device from unwanted connections, providing a physical isolation for additional security and privacy protection.”

3D printing allowed the researchers to incorporate multiple components into the capsules, and to create the capsules from alternating layers of stiff and flexible polymers, which help them to withstand the acidic environment of the stomach.

(A) Endoscopy images show the electractive drug delivery module (green dashed-line box) prior to triggering. Mucous films from the stomach covers reservoir. (B) The wireless triggered release of drug as a result of the opening of drug reservoir cover (green arrow) which was not interfered by the mucous coverage. (C) Washed triggered reservoir to show the expanded system (green arrow)

“Multimaterials 3D printing is a highly versatile manufacturing technology that can create unique multicomponent architectures and functional devices, which cannot be fabricated with conventional manufacturing techniques,” said Dr. Kong. “We can potentially create customized ingestible electronics where the gastric residence period can be tailored based on a specific medical application, which could lead to a personalized diagnostic and treatment that is widely accessible.”

Currently, the device is powered by a small silver oxide battery, but the researchers are investigating the possibility of replacing the battery with alternative power sources, such as an external antenna or even stomach acid. They are also working on developing other types of sensors that could be incorporated into the capsules. They have already tested the temperature sensor in pigs, and they believe that they may be able to start testing the devices on humans within two years. A company has been formed to develop the technology for human use.

Authors of the paper include Yong Lin Kong, Xingyu Zou, Caitlin A. McCandler, Ameya R. Kirtane, Shen Ning, Jianlin Zhou, Abubakar Abid, Mousa Jafari, Jaimie Rogner, Daniel Minahan, Joy E. Collins, Shane McDonnell, Cody Cleveland, Taylor Bensel, Siid Tamang, Graham Arrick, Alla Gimbel, Tiffany Hua, Udayan Ghosh, Vance Soares, Nancy Wang, Aniket Wahane, Alison Hayward, Shiyi Zhang, Brian R. Smith, Robert Langer and Giovanni Traverso.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.


Spooky Eyes #3DPrinting #3DThursday

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!