Open Source Laboratory Rocker / Mixer / Shaker (Lab Rocker) #3DPrinting #3DThursday

C3802c81e9d0a9070db5652fffa48965 preview featured

akshay_d21 shared this project on Thingiverse!

Here is my take on the laboratory rocker, which is a laboratory tool/device used in laboratories for mild to moderately aggressive biological and molecular mixing applications.

→ This variable speed, 2-dimensional rocker was completely designed in Autodesk Fusion360.
→ The design utilizes a changeable apparatus rack/tray/platform for holding apparatus to perform a see-saw motion for mixing content.
→ The rack/tray can be secure in place using the side locks on either side.

See more!

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!

Korok from Zelda BOTW #3DThursday #3DPrinting #Zelda #BreathoftheWild

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Shared bye elliotboney on Thingiverse:

I had a hard time printing greggo’s Customizable Korok so I just cut it in half at a place that was easy to print with no supports, then glue together.

Download the files and learn more

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!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

Arizona State University and PADT Receive Grant to Research Biomimicry and 3D Printing

Biomimicry is the the practice of basing design off of natural structures, such as honeycombs, for example. It has been used frequently in conjunction with 3D printing, as researchers, designers and engineers take advantage of 3D printing’s ability to create complex structures like those created by nature.

Arizona State University and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT) are frequent collaborators who have just received a $127,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase 1 Grant from NASA. The purpose of the grant is to allow the two institutions to further study in biomimicry and 3D printing.

“We’re honored to continue advanced research on biomimicry with our good friends and partners at ASU,” said Rey Chu, Principal and Co-Founder, PADT. “With our combined expertise in 3D printing and computer modeling, we feel that our research will provide a breakthrough in the way that we design objects for NASA, and our broad range of product manufacturing clients.”

PADT recently helped NASA to develop more than 100 parts for the Orion Mission, its manned spaceflight to Mars. NASA applications for this latest grant will include the design and manufacture of high performance materials for use in heat exchangers, lightweight structures and space debris resistant skins. If the first phase is successful, PADT and ASU will be eligible for another, larger grant from NASA.

“New technologies in imaging and manufacturing, including 3D printing, are opening possibilities for mimicking biological structures in a way that has been unprecedented in human history,” said Dhruv Bhate, Associate Professor, Arizona State University. “Our ability to build resilient structures while significantly reducing the weight will benefit product designers and manufacturers who leverage the technology.”

We spoke to Bhate and Eric Miller, Co-Founder and Principal at PADT, for further details about the work that will be taking place under the grant.

What kinds of biological structures are going to be studied under the grant?

“In Phase I, the research is focused on insect nests and the relationship between material and design since the nests are constructed with a range of materials such as bees’ wax, paper and clay. The baseline natural model is the wild honeybee comb, along with nests made by other social insects such as wasps and hornets. These types of structures are perfect for replication with 3D printing because insects build structures in an additive way as well. Many of these shapes can only be created using an additive process, in nature and in industry.”

How has biomimicry been used in industries such as aerospace in the past?

“Hexahedral sandwich panels, which are like a single layer, flat bee-hive structure, have been used in aircraft design for decades. Many aircrafts that are made with carbon fiber composites use flat hex structures to provide light weight strength. With 3D printing, manufacturers can take this proven structure and move beyond flat panels.

A recent example of biomimicry in aerospace was a concept design by Airbus engineers who adapted the venation patterns in the Amazonian water lily to the design of wing spoiler to be 3D printed in metal with the laser power bed fusion process. Airbus has also investigated the use of surface textures that mimic sharkskin to reduce drag.”

What kind of work have ASU and PADT done with biomimicry so far?

“In 2016, PADT won a multi-million-dollar grant from America Makes, a national additive manufacturing innovation institute, to conduct research on lattice structures, a type of structure that has potential to change infrastructure and product development as a whole, especially in aerospace and medical. Part of this research was to develop predictive models for the mechanical behavior of cellular materials including honeycomb structures.

ASU and PADT also published a paper on biomimetic cellular materials at the 2016 Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, America’s largest academic conference on Additive Manufacturing.

The STTR grant is the first research grant PADT and ASU have won as a team that directly involves the use of biomimicry in guiding design.”

What industries will be focused on to benefit from the research?

“The aerospace industry is the primary beneficiary from this research. In the aerospace industry, structures need to have certain properties such as strength or insulation, while remaining extremely lightweight.

Moving forward, this work can be applied to the defense industry for armor design, to the biomedical industry for improving implant design, and to consumer applications such as footwear, in which cushioning, and durability is of importance.

The same advantages of biomimicry in the aerospace world – less weight for greater strength in complex shapes – also benefit the automotive industry. As the automotive industry moves to more efficient electric vehicles, structures that use biomimicry will become more prevalent.”

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


Could Your Next Headphones Use 3D Printed Metamaterials?

We’ve often seen 3D printing used to fabricate headphones and earbuds. But a team of researchers from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow are taking this idea to the next level with acoustic metamaterials. Metamaterials, which can morph according to their environment, make up a new class of finely-engineered surfaces that can perform nature-defying tasks like 3D printing holograms and shaping sound waves. Acoustic metamaterials have the unique ability to attenuate sound by breaking the mass-density law, due to properties such as negative effective density and bulk modulus – no easy feat when it comes to small devices since thin walls are easily penetrated by acoustic waves.

The researchers, who are all affiliated in various capacities with the university’s Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE), recently published a paper, titled “Enhancing the Sound Absorption of Small-Scale 3D Printed Acoustic Metamaterials Based on Helmholtz Resonators,” detailing how their SLA 3D printed acoustic metametarials, based on Helmholtz resonators, can be used for small-scale sound absorption applications.

The abstract reads, “The directional response due to the position of the acoustic source on the sound attenuation provided by the metamaterial is investigated by controlling the location of a loudspeaker with a robot arm. To enhance and broaden the absorption bands, structural modifications are added such that overtones are tuned to selected frequencies, and membranes are included at the base of the resonators. This design is made possible by innovative 3D printing techniques based on stereolithography and on the use of specific UV-curable resins. These results show that these designs could be used for sound control in small-scale electroacoustic devices and sensors.”

To cut a material’s sound transmission by half, you have to double its acoustic frequency, density, or thickness. When an acoustic metamaterial has negative parameters, stop bands will form where the sound is deeply attenuated at certain frequencies.

“Acoustic metamaterials can break the mass-density law by exploiting the stop bands formed in the proximity of the resonance frequencies of their unit cells,” the researchers explain. “These material structures are often based on Helmholtz resonators and membranes. The frequency band that is attenuated by using these kind of unit cells is nevertheless narrow, hence solutions such as coupling of multiple resonances and leveraging the losses of the materials are generally used to make the attenuation broadband.”

Kuka robotic arm configuration.

The team’s paper presents a basic design of these small-scale, sub-wavelength 3D printed acoustic metamaterials, which use Helmholtz resonators arrays to generate stop bands where sound attenuation increases with the number of unit cells. A loudspeaker, guided by a KUKA robot arm through a quarter-hemisphere trajectory, illustrated that an absorption band forms “for every angle of incidence of the impinging sound wave.” A reference microphone was used to measure sound transmission in the air, while the transmission above the sample was measured by a second microphone.

The paper also explains two methods of enhancing the stop band, the first of which requires the resonators’ overtones to be tuned more closely to the fundamental frequency; this causes the band to grow wider. The second method involves printing membranes at the resonators’ base.

“In this work a novel fabrication technique is used, where thin membranes are fabricated inside Helmholtz resonators, the two units consisting of different materials,” the researchers wrote. “The presented manufacturing technique could result in rapid prototyping of metamaterials and contribute to the advancement of this field into the industrial environment. Simple physical models of the presented metamaterials are included in each section, nevertheless this work is mostly based on experimental results and aims at developing metamaterials that could be included in real devices. Potential applications of this work include noise cancellation for devices such as headphones, hearing aids and other sensors.”

Work is continuing to advance acoustic metamaterials in applications like acoustic cloaking, sound focusing and waveguiding, and imaging and computation, but the results are not often integrated into functional devices. But if studies like this one by the University of Strathclyde researchers can be validated, we could be looking at vastly improved headphones in the near future.

Co-authors of the paper are IEEE Student Member Cecilia Casarini, Benjamin Tiller, Carmelo Mineo, Charles N. MacLeod, IEEE Senior Member Professor James F. C. Windmill, and Joseph C. Jackson.

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

Tatsuo Ishibashi’s Vibrant Designs are Game-Changing Assistive Tools for People with Muscle Weakness

What began as a sign of aging quickly transformed into a revolutionary idea for designer Tatsuo Ishibashi.

“I had slightly felt muscle stiffness of my fingers because of aging,” Ishibashi told Shapeways. “By chance, I had seen a TV program featuring self-help input devices for arthritis. Then I thought that I could make a cool device for the elderly by using the 3D printer.”

And make a cool device he certainly did.

Tapping into his 3D design knowledge, as well as utilizing Shapeways’ services, Ishibashi began prototyping and developing assistive devices to help those with muscle weakness, whether because of issues like arthritis or advanced age. After his trial period was complete and multiple devices had been constructed in a span of about three years, Ishibashi’s creative and colorful designs became a standout in today’s 3D market. His products, which can be found at Mizulabo, are not only simple and functional, but also lightweight, low cost, and easy to handle.

Iterations of Tatsuo Ishibashi's assistive tool for the elderly

Iterations of Tatsuo Ishibashi’s assistive tool

“I make so many prototypes by my desktop 3D printer because I need them in order to get what satisfies both design and functional requirements,” he said. “3D printers are quite good tools for us because we can evaluate immediately whether our designs are functionary or not. I print out the final version of my products through Shapeways.”

From molecular engineering to 3D design

Although Ishibashi is well-versed in 3D design now, his original career path led him to molecular engineering. “I specialized in molecular engineering in graduate school. I learned programming and engineering there. And I experienced research and product development including design in a manufacturing company.” With that experience under his tool belt, he was able to take that knowledge and apply it to the complex world of 3D design.

Like any designer, however, Ishibashi has faced his fair share of obstacles. Because he’s self-taught, he struggled to find a test process that could measure both functionality and mechanical strength. Ishibashi then discovered the Fusion360 software and UPPlus2 printer which allowed him to measure both qualities, each vital to the design’s success. Once he had constructed solid models of his idea, he turned to his mentors for inspiration. “I learned from lecturers of specialized seminars and from visitors of exhibitions to which I submitted,” Ishibashi told Shapeways.

Tatsuo Ishibashi's touch assist holder device

The “Touch assist holder” is a device for operating smartphone or tablet screens.

The future of assistive tools

Soon enough, Ishibashi was on his way to releasing his designs to the public, assisting the elderly and those with muscle weakness in a completely new way. His assistive tools were incredibly well received and in the future, he hopes to “upgrade the cutlery holder and change the design of the writing assist holder. I hope that a category of the self-help devices will grow steadily. Now I plan to conduct a verification test in some care homes in Japan.”

He adds, “Some of the visitors in the exhibition held in July [2018] had keen interests in my products, and had an idea of conducting a demonstration test in their facilities. I plan to offer the tests [in the near future]. My future image is that many 3D designers will participate in the assistive device field and communicate at the same platform with users.”

be a game changer

The post Tatsuo Ishibashi’s Vibrant Designs are Game-Changing Assistive Tools for People with Muscle Weakness appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

Makelab partners with AMFG for automated 3D printing on-demand

Brooklyn-based on-demand 3D printing service bureau, Makelab, has partnered with automation software developer AMFG. With the help of AMFG’s software utilities, Makelab is to streamline it’s 3D printing service requests in response to high demand.  According to Christina Perla, Makelab co-founder, there was a clear need to partner with AMFG. Perla said, “as we scale […]

Lego Battery #3DThursday #3DPrinting

Are you looking to power motors and servos with your LEGO builds? 3D print a battery case for LEGO robotics projects! This is 3D printed 8×8 LEGO compatible box that contains a 3xAA battery pack. The box is comprised of four pieces that snap-fit together. It features studs and tubes that can attach to either side of LEGO bricks.

Full tutorial learn guide:

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!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

San Francisco Cable Car Timelapse #3DThursday #3DPrinting

Every week we’ll 3D print designs from the community and showcase slicer settings, use cases and of course, Time-lapses!

San Francisco Cable Car
Colin Winslow
Ultimaker s5
Gold / Pink PLA
18hrs 10mins
X:172 Y:56 Z:46mm
.2mm layer / .25mm nozzle
15% Infill / 6.5mm retract
210C / 60C

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!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

Study Shows Anisotropic Properties of 3D Printed Nickel Super Alloy K418 (713C)

3D printing materials don’t just suddenly appear and get put to use without further thought – there is a great deal of study that goes into them, particularly metal materials. Their behaviors and properties must be known in order to make sure they perform. Especially now that our technology is being used in high-value applications such as aero-engines and medcine research about material properties and performance is growing in both volume and importance. In a new study entitled “Anisotropy of nickel-based superalloy K418 fabricated by selective laser melting,” a group of researchers used 3D printed samples to study the anisotropic mechanical behavior of one particular material – K418, a nickel-based superalloy.

K418 was developed in the 1960s and has been used on a widespread basis in aerospace engines, hot end turbocharger impellers, turbine blades the automotive industry, and more. It has excellent mechanical properties, excellent ductility and fatigue strength, good oxidation resistance at high temperatures, making it a stable and reliable material. It is difficult to machine by conventional methods at room temperature, however, due to excessive tool wearing, high cutting temperature, and other issues. Components made from K418 are often complex, with inner chambers, thin walls, and overhangs, making them difficult to fabricate through one single method such as machining. This alloy is also known as 713C Alloy, 713C,or Inconel 713C Alloy and many derivatives thereof. Inconel is actually a superalloy that was developed in the 60″s but became a catch-all name for the many superalloys developed around the same time frame. Inconel 713LC was a proprietary alloy made by the INCO (INCO was a global Canadian mining company that was the world’s largest producer of nickel, bought by Vale in 2006) and this term plus all of the derivatives are used interchangeably. 713C or as it is also known K418 has been used extensively in rocket engines, turbo stages and in the space and defense industries since the 60’s. SpaceX, NASA, Rocketdyne and others are all using this material to 3D print rocket engines.

Selective laser melting (SLM, also called powder bed fusion, DMLS, Direct Metal Laser Sintering, PBF) has shown itself to be more effective than conventional techniques like machining at manufacturing complex metal components. Thanks to its high temperature and rapid cooling, it also offers better mechanical properties than casting.

In this study, the researchers looked at the anisotropic properties of the K418 alloy. Anisotropy is defined as a difference in physical or mechanical properties when measured along different axes – in other words, a material’s properties could be different along the vertical axis than along the horizontal axis. In FDM (material extrusion) printed parts for example parts are weaker in between layers than laterally.

The researchers used a self-developed SLM 3D printer to produce several cylinders from the K418 material. The samples were manufactured both horizontally and vertically, or transverse and longitudinal. Microstructural anisotropy analysis was performed on both the horizontal and vertical samples.

“The microstructural anisotropy analysis was performed by optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM),” the researchers explain. “Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis was used to identify their crystallographic preferred orientation (texture) and to correlate the anisotropy of the mechanical strength with the texture of the material. The results showed that the transverse specimens had slightly higher yield strength, but much significantly higher ductility than that of the transverse specimens with the elongated columnar grains along the building direction.”

SEM micrographs of (a and b) the horizontal samples and (b and c) the vertical samples.

The extremely high thermal gradient and rapid cooling rate during the SLM process led to strong non-equilibrium solidification of the molten pool and the formation of ultrafine grain structure, which resulted in anisotropic microstructures and mechanical properties in different directions.

“The presence of textures renders the SLM processed K418 samples anisotropic in their mechanical properties, indicating that the transverse specimens display a ductile-brittle hybrid fracture mode with a slightly higher yield strength, while the vertical specimens show a ductile fracture mode with a significant increase in ductility,” the researchers continue.

The fact that SLM-produced K418 has anisotropic properties is an interesting finding. The finding may mean that engineers will feel more comfortable using and designing K418 parts using 3D printing. Metal 3D printing is an extremely effective method for producing components from this material, particularly complex structures. Given the performance envelope of this material and its space applications, this is sure to be an article that many will take an interest in. For some more reading on Inconel this article discusses cooling rates and their effects on Inconel 718 and in this article, we look at how Inconel 718 is being used by Launcher.

Authors of the paper include Zhen Chen, Shenggui Chen, Zhengying Wei, Lijuan Zhang, Pei Wei, Bingheng Lu, Shuzhe Zhang, and Yu Xiang.

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


The 3D Printing Octagon  

A few years ago I started to think of 3D printing as a triangle where you had to control for each part of the delta: software, machines, and materials. I’ve now come to realize that it is more complex still. In order to get true repeatability, reliability and throughput in high-quality parts we have to from concept to customer consider the most significant influences on 3D printing.  We have to each of us, whether we be users, OEMs, manufacturers have to look at 3D printing holistically, and take into account how our inputs affect all others. Only by controlling for all sides of the 3D Printing Octagon can we ultimately succeed in 3D printing parts reliably and repeatably at scale.

People have been trying to reduce the influence of variables on 3D printed parts since the technology began. But, initially, it was one OEM who made the machine, sold the materials and made the software (or at least influenced these things). Companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems could coordinate all of the settings and variables to come up with coherent 3D prints. Their level of control meant that parts came out the right way every time. The current 3D printing landscape consists of this Closed way of doing things but also an Open Ecosystem. And let’s be frank guys, the Open Ecosystem is currently a mess. Everyone is just winging it. People are building systems willy-nilly without much a thought to the importance of software. A lot of OEMs have very little understanding of firmware and the effects of that on prints. Materials companies just throw stuff over the hedge with settings such as between 200 and 230 C? You’re joking right, would that work if I were baking a cake? Part of that problem is due to run to run differences on machines. Often machines can be found to have temperature differences at the nozzle of 10 to 15 degrees. So the temperature that you’re printing at is probably not the temperature you’re actually printing at. A knock on effect of this is that a lot of 3D printing research is junk because it doesn’t correct for these temperature differences. There is variability also in the torque of the mostly totally crappy stepper motors we use as well. Open printers have huge influences from airflow, ambient temperature, and humidity. Often there are considerable temperature fluctuations in a build chamber during a build. We all just random walkaly try to solve the bed adhesion issues as if it were second grade and we’re playing with glue-sticks. There are inconsistencies in procedures as well. Settings on the printer are dealt with if they’re some kind of dadaist art form with everyone semi-randomly changing retraction, speeds and extrusion power. Gcode and the way the nozzle actually builds up a part has effects which are not addressed. Design for 3D printing is something that is being made up as we go along but is hampered because we make up new terms for everything. We can’t even agree to all use Material Extrusion, FDM, FFF or whatever to describe the different technologies. We don’t have a universal accuracy measurement or a way to test 3D printer performance. Most dogbones are printed in vain due to inconsistencies in testing methodology. Kids, it’s time to put down the screwdrivers for a moment and work together.

1. Standardization & Testing. We need to adopt the same terminology, procedures, tests, and standards if we are to advance. I know this is boring, but it is also essential. If we don’t do this, then there is no way through which we can collectively advance the industry. Furthermore, a lot of inefficiencies will be created while everyone tries to build their platform. We can opt for, or a “chaotic everyone do their own thing industry” if we want, but we would get to better parts quicker by working together. You see, you may think you’re competing against one another, but this is not true. What we’re competing with is injection molding, clay, welding or any other manufacturing technology. We have to make 3D printing more viable for more things. That way we all profit. The more things we can make reliably; the more valuable and desirable our machines, materials, and software will be. I’ve said this before but you are not Boeing, and the other guy is not Airbus. There are 7 billion people on this planet that do not use 3D printing, the ones that do for business or at home are essentially a rounding error. We can perhaps now make only around 2% of all the things in the world. It is by activating more people on 3D printing and by making more prints possible that we all advance. Meanwhile a lot of you hawkeyed look at the other guy like we’re some mature no-growth industry. Stop with this nonsense, but rather help us make us the answer to all the things that do not exist yet.

After we, hopefully, standardize our nomenclature and testing we should come to grips with the other sides of the 3D Printing octagon. If we want to produce parts reliably, we will need to realize that there are seven sides to this problem and that they all have to be understood and controlled for 3D printing to work well. If we industrialize, we will have to control for and master the entire octagon. Lack of understanding of one or more elements of the octagon means that we will screw up at one point. This is all well and dandy for your Yoda head but not for my 3D printed heart. This is the future guys, and the future sucks because it will have a lot of statistics in it, graphs and clipboards.

2. Machine & Slicer Settings The machine settings influence how quickly a part is printed at what speed the head moves and at what temperature the nozzle extrudes. Settings have direct effects on wall slip, pressure and the voxel as it is being built. Individual settings such as retraction work in concert with and have significant feedback loops with other parameters such as speed, feeder setting, feeder speed, etc. These settings also cannot be universally applied and do not have consistent effects. E.g., differences in filament roundness can interfere with consistent extrusion and mask optimal extrusion speeds or differences in filament surface finish can cause different optimal feeder settings. Settings are often user tweaked in isolation, and the user often feels as if they are “learning how to 3D print” whereas in actuality they are continually compensating for other misunderstood differences in environment, material or design. Incorrect and inconsistent use of settings leads to many print failures and is the chief reason why 3D printing is advancing slower than it should on the desktop. It’s as if we’re all trying to bake cakes, but no one ever writes down a recipe or even defines what boiling or icing means. In this case, I’ve lumped together slicer and machine settings because they work in concert and are both open to user input often to that user’s detriment.

3. Machine & Environment  By machine we mean here the actual positioning, movement, and print process that the machine parts are doing at any one time. In this sense lack of calibration, calibration procedure or run to run differences inhibit precision. Through machine, we also mean the internal surfaces in the machine, especially where melt occurs. The pressure in the nozzle, as well as the surfaces of these critical pathways, are little understood. We will need to grasp these effects much more precisely. Understanding settings are also in and of themselves useless if the machine inconsistently acts upon these settings.

We must control the machine in order for it to build parts. We must also manage the environment. At one point, hopefully, all printers will be closed, and we’ll breathe in fewer fumes and get better print results. We have to control airflows, laminar flow, heat, ambient temperature and humidity if we are to print consistently. Right now people are spoiling their datasets by printing near windows or with heat changes in their buildings. We need to bring down the excessive number of variables and their effects significantly.  

4. Material Material roundness and diameter has significant effects on nozzle pressures and misprints. The temperature that materials have to be extruded at to get optimal layer adhesion is often also not precisely understood or communicated. There are also many material dependent settings and differences. Some materials require fans to be at 100% some print better when they are off. The interplay between materials and settings with the complex feedback loops occurring there are not understood by industry. Often much instruction and expounding on optimal settings are not much better than guesswork. The correct applications of the right material for the correct part is also not communicated. Polymer companies toss resin pellets at extrusion companies that gleefully catch this manna from heaven before extruding it, rolling it up and frisbeeing that at an OEM. OEM’s copy paste some info and pass it on to users. No one speaks the same language, and no one understands each other. Additives, grades, and polymers themselves can have massive effects. Many users are not even aware that colorants mean that different PLA’s from the same vendor print best at different nozzle temperatures.

Through this five hundred million dollar whispering word game, the user is left with some marketing slogans and imprecise guidance on when to use a material and how to print it. OEMs and retailers want better printability, and by putting them in the driving seat, we’ve set the “spreadability” of butter as the main priority rather than its taste. Printability is when a machine manufacturer asks you to cover up their machine’s failings through polymer chemistry or additives. Printability is a lie. A 3D printer manufacturer telling us what materials to print and how is like an arsonist advising the fire department. I do not in the slightest doubt that there is real affinity and interest, but in the final analysis, our shared goal does diverge. You want a thing that makes your machine look good, and I want a thing that gives me the best parts and best properties.

5. Operator & Process Touched on above, the operator is mostly a creature of random habit. Part artist part scientist excelling at neither we blunder through misprint after misprint. Look I also thoroughly enjoyed the exploration and astronaut feeling of 3D printing initially. But, could we now make it humdrum and predictable? And Astronauts become astronauts through learning and stay alive through a process. We need the best processes, and we need these mapped and explained well.

One of the most prominent failure modes in desktop 3D printing is layer adhesion issues with your first layer. Often the cause of this is greasy fingers on the build platform. Clean the platform, and many first layer issues disappear. 3D printing would be much better if we all knew the best way to do certain things. Many misprints are also due to incorrect storage of PLA and moisture on it. There have to be processes for these kinds of seemingly ancillary but crucial things as well. The rote concentration and effort of processes correctly implemented by a knowledgeable operator working systematically will be tedious but will reduce failure rates for all of us.

6. FIle The STL needs to die in a fire, this much is certain. We need to have one good file type that can describe densities, colors, patterns and every bit of information in the voxel at every location. We also have to find ways of going from CAD directly to movement on the machine while also finding better ways to describe circles, triangles, and parts. A lot of CAD software changes the way your file works and a lot of information that we want in the file such as where it is from and how it can become parametric and what materials work how is absent. I’ve previously been a proponent of sDNA which essentially is an idea whereby an XML file format contains not only a description of the thing but the thing in all of its permutations in all of the available materials with the relevant settings and attribution and use information. We will need this eventually, and the sooner we get it, the better.

7. Toolpath, Melt Pool & Infill Toolpaths are not intelligent and can be optimized. Much more efficient ways to draw objects can be found. More research needs to be done as to how the nozzle moves and how this coupled with extrusion speed, wall slip effects, and nozzle diameter makes your print. If the laser would build a part with a different spot size or melt pool, then the consequences are enormous on the part. We need to be able to control where crystallization occurs (when and if it is intended to happen) and we need more control over the actual placement/melting in place of material. Once we can do that, then we can genuinely consider each print a unique material made for one application and can control for and optimize the qualities of that part at every voxel. Then we can also dynamically optimize infill patterns, shapes and make them dynamic as well. We could then design the sand, shape the mortar and use both to build a house by letting us determine the right properties at each voxel, also at each 3D infill space and also of the part as a whole through the modification of these three in concert.

8. Design Stuck in our Voronoi ways we’ll hopefully look back at this as a quaint time of salt of the earth people. Like how we now look at times when only truckers wore trucker hats and New York didn’t look like a German U-Boot crashed off of Greenpoint. Form follows function is such a universally held truism in design that few actually practice it. But, by starting from the utility of a thing, how long it needs to exist and what it needs to do we can then go to a functional shape. Using FEA and other techniques more designers and engineers will start to make objects that are made for a purpose. We will need to get our heads around optimal weight saving techniques, how to integrate multiple functionalities in one object, how to reduce part count, how to iterate and test designs. We will have to look again at textures, topology optimization and how this works in conjunction with the possible and desirable. Design and engineering from 3D printing will be many iterations, many failures agile engineering affair. If this is done in conjunction with those above to control for the 3D Printer Octagon then we will have a 3D printed world. Have at it.