Software invented by researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) could double 3D printing speeds without compromising print accuracy. Spin-off company Ulendo showcased the technology at last week’s Rapid+ TCT event in Detroit.
Increasing the speed of 3D printing generally causes vibrations which affect the quality of the finished part. The software, designed for printers that work with a print head that mechanically moves back and forth, essentially tricks the 3D printer into compensating for the vibrations of the actual word.
Ulendo’s software is called FBS, which stands for Filtered B Splines. The technical name refers to the mathematical function that Chinedum Okwudire, associate professor of mechanical engineering and founder of Ulendo, and his team used to translate machine commands from ideal hold to commands that would compensate for machine vibrations. 3D printer. “Suppose you want a 3D printer to move in a straight line, but due to vibrations the motion is moving upwards. The FBS algorithm tricks the machine into telling it to follow a downward path, and when it tries to follow that path, it moves straight. said Okwudire. “Our solution allows you to print quickly without sacrificing quality.”
Machine vibration has been on Okwudire’s mind for many years, ever since he worked in industry and struggled with a high-precision milling machine. His team failed to stiffen the machine to prevent vibration, so they had to slow it down.
After joining UM as a professor in 2011, Okwudire followed his muse and designed software that could overcome machine vibrations. In 2017, a mechanical engineering graduate student in Okwudire’s lab implemented the software on a 3D printer. When the research was highlighted in a YouTube video, thought leaders took notice and Ulendo was born.
“Members of the 3D printing industry have the same jaw-dropping reaction I had when I first heard about how this technology translates to a printer working twice speed and 10x acceleration,” said Brenda Jones, CEO of Ulendo.
Okwudire and his team intend to extend the algorithm to other types of machines, including robots, machine tools and other types of 3D printers. During RAPID+ TCT, he also showcased his lab’s latest technology, SmartScan. The software intelligently moves a laser beam to prevent warping caused by heat buildup in parts printed by powder bed fusion.
Ulendo was created through innovation partnerships at UM. Much of the commercial development was funded by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Grant.