Big Step to Reduce Materials in 3D Printing
Kyle Maxey posted on September 25, 2013 |

3d printing, china, support material, material, cost, algorithm, shelling,

One of the reasons 3D printing remains expensive is because so much material is required to create a structurally sound part. Soon, 3D prints might be getting cheaper due to a new technique that enhances a part’s structure while reducing material.

A paper written by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China states that 3D printing material volumes can be reduced by up to 70% with a newly devised printing optimization scheme.

According to the researchers, the new scheme uses an algorithm to take an input shape, hollow it out, add the minimum amount of support struts, and print a “geometrically approximate” physically stable 3D printing part.

To create their algorithm, researchers balanced a litany of design constraints that optimized attributes like object stiffness, geometrical approximation, stability, and printability.

While reducing the cost of “object material” could provide thousands of dollars of savings for complex prints, researchers took their algorithm a step further by applying its rigorous constraints to support material as well.

When applied to support material builds, the algorithm proved successful at slashing the amount of material need to support an object.  This advance alone could dramatically reduce print cost by saving material and post-processing cost as well.

As improvements like these continue to advance 3D printing technology, the technology’s economic competitiveness will continue to surge, leading to wider adoption.

Images Courtesy of the University of Science and Technology of China

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