How Machine Learning Will Unlock The Future of 3D Printing

Remember how, just five years ago, it seemed like 3D printing was going to take over the world? How it seemed like we’d have 3D printed cars that we’d be parking in our 3D printed houses? Things didn’t seem to work out so much. But even while the hype died, companies have been steadily working on the technology.

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Two years after Autodesk announced a plan to 3D print an entire steel bridge designed by Joris Laarman, the project really is going forward, with anticipated completion at the end of the year. Autodesk agreed to share an exclusive update with Co.Design. What’s fascinating is how much things have evolved, how many problems have been conquered—and where the project goes from here.

A Case Study For Industrial Applications 

The bridge is really just a proof of concept for printed steel applications that range from shipbuilding to off-shore oil rigs. Getting there will require not just better software, but robots that can teach themselves how to get better at 3D printing. “We’re now making huge steps in the volume of object that can be printed. That’s going to create a significant leap in adoption,” says Gijs van der Velden, who runs MX3D, a startup spun off from Joris Laarman Lab that’s dedicated to commercializing large-scale steel printing.

Bridge Design [Photo: Joris Laarman Lab]When Laarman first dreamed up the bridge, it was supported by a lattice of struts that branched like an ice crystal. It was to be installed across a canal near Amsterdam’s historical Red Light district. But the bridge has changed radically, for one simple reason: The city found that the design stressed the walls of the canal, and so had to be reengineered. The bridge that’s being printed now more resembles a typical pedestrian structure, though the surface and form still bend and twist fantastically, in a way that could only be done with 3D printing. And that’s the point: To show all kinds of would-be partners what’s possible.

[Photo: Olivier de Gruijter]The challenge is printing big pieces. You might think that would be a hardware problem—a matter of making better robots—but it’s actually more about software. All along, the idea has been to use off-the-shelf industrial robots, so that a client could literally order the robots, get them in three weeks later, and then use MX3D’s software to print whatever they like. It’s complicated to get those robots to weld something that has all the physical properties required of a high-performance part.

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When steel melts, its physical properties change. Constant reheating makes it brittle. That means that you can’t simply build up a 3D printed steel structure like you can with plastic, applying one layer of goop at a time. As the successive layers of steel are applied, they reheat the layers below. If those have been only recently applied, they get weaker. Conquering that challenge means an entirely different printing strategy. As different areas cool, the steel has to be built up in what look like random patterns. A robot that’s 3-D printing with steel looks less like a spider spinning a web—and more like a spider spinning a web while tripping on acid. Because the printer is no longer waiting for steel to cool in a particular spot, the printer itself can work twice as quickly.

[Photo: Olivier de Gruijter]But then things get even more complicated. Intricate 3D geometries are by definition bespoke, so it’s hard to know in advance where the machine will have trouble creating strong welds. This is where machine learning can help. The industrial robots that MX3D uses already have sensors that detect how much current is being used to heat up the metal, how hot that metal gets, and where exactly the welds are being applied. MX3D is working on the next phase: combining that data with machine learning algorithms to help the robot learn what welds are likely to pose problems—and either address those problems in real time, or avoid them altogether, coming up with new patterns of movement that allow each layer to build up properly. “When you’re making the file for printing, the big issues will be resolved,” explains van der Velden. “When you’re actually printing, the machine will recognize a problem and create a solution on the fly.”

GradientScreen [Photo: Joris Laarman Lab]He concedes that 3D printing steel won’t be useful in 95% of industrial building projects. In those cases, simple structures are all that’s needed. But the remaining 5% is a huge market. For example, the steel support structure for an off-shore oil rig incredibly difficult to engineer. Instead of having a team of builders create a single part, you might have two engineers keeping watch over eight robots. Moreover, one of the most time-consuming steps in making pieces for a huge project such as an oil rig is shaving critical parts down, to save whatever weight you can. Reducing a 6,000 kilo part to 5,000 kilos can mean renting an entirely different sort of crane for installation, at a dramatically lower cost. 3D printing such a part, with an intricate interior structure where all the weight has already been reduced, might stand to reduce weight by 50% while requiring no extra shaving work. The same goes with large, high-performance parts such as the rotor on a cargo ship. Massive energy savings would result from a piece the looks the same on the outside but has been optimally hollowed out on the inside.

Which brings us back to the bridge. It’s meant to be marketing for MX3D; Autodesk, which makes the software; and a dozen other partners who’ve lent millions of dollars in resources to develop the technology. While the bridge looks cool on the outside, that surface is really meant to show what’s possible inside giant pieces of equipment that haven’t changed much in decades. “It’s not going to be a magical way of producing everything,” says van der Velden. “But we’ll find really important new parts to print.”

BuMat PLAFG-E Elite PLA Filament 1.75mm 1kg 2.2lb Printing Material Supply Spool for 3D Printer, Fluorescent Green

BuMat Elite Filament is the best, safest, and most consistent filament for your 3D Printer. This is the highest quality components for producing successful 3D print. It is compatible with all 1.75mm Printer like Flash Forge USA, RepRap, Rapman, Makerbot, BFB 3000, Rostock, Ultimaker Printrbot, Makibox, Buccaneer, Kossel, Mendel and many other printers.

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3D pen 3D Printing Pen for Doodling (Yellow)

How the 3D pen works:

This 3D Stereoscopic Printing Pen uses plastic which is melted at a high temperature and can be used to draw a 3D object to bring your designs from paper to real life. It’s as easy to use as any other pen, just draw naturally but you can lift the nib into the air and the magic begins as your drawing takes shape into a real 3D object. It can be used to draw and trace designs on paper which can then be lifted off or you can draw in the air so imagination is your only restriction.

Features:

The 3D Pen is light weight at a little over 60 grams and has nice speed controls making it user friendly.
The pens intelligent standby function allows you to leave of your work without troubles and the device will automatically go into standby so as you can get on your creation.
Designed to help the artist and designer in you shine by allowing you to bring carefully crafted masterpieces to life.

Specifications:

Input: AC 110V-220V
Output: DC 12V 3A
Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm-0.7mm
Output Materials Type: Fused Deposition Modeling
Molding Method: 3D Modeling
Printing Area: Unlimited
Sprinkle Speed: Adjustable
Heating Temperature: 160 to 230 Degree Celsius (Adjustable)
Filament material: ABS

Cautions:

Don’t touch the head of the pen when using, it’s very hot!
Please unload the filament and turn off the power after use.
Don’t leave your kids alone when he/she plays with the 3D drawing pen.

Package List:

1 x 3D drawing pen
1 x Charger
3 lots ABS Filament (random color, 10g each)
1 x User Guide
1 x Retail Box

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Product Features

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New to forum and 3d printing

You’re going to have a blast! By the way, white filament is great for lithophanes. 🙂

Buying a 3D printer is a lot like buying an auto back in 1913. You have to do the repairs yourself, and there can be some frustration and jury-rigging, but when it’s running sweet…

Watch out for the little spring clips that hold the fan shroud to the hot end. They tend to fly off

when trying to remove them or put them back on. In a pinch, bent paperclips, plastic ties, or chewing gum (kidding) will hold them until you print replacement clips.

Suggestions for first mods… glass plate (3/32″ thick, from Lowes, etc) and replacing the 30mm fan with a 40mm.

Have fun!

3D MARS Sample Violet 1.75mm 3D Printer PLA Filament (20 Meters / 65 Feet Each Color) for 3D Printing and 3D Pens Filament ,Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05mm


Welcome to the world of 3D Mars for endless opportunities of innovation and design in 3D printing!


Please pay attention to these information before purchasing:

Type: Sample Violet Filaments
Package: Individual Vacuum Sealed
Gross meter :20 Meter / 65 Feet Each Color, without spool
Length of Filament Diameter:1.75mm,Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05mm

Quick Guides for 3D printer buyers:

PLA users sometimes have difficulties in jamming the hot-end, just add a drop of oil to hot-end, and then when you put a roll on,it will give you smooth, jam-free, jam-smelling prints till the cows come home.
Getting the perfect extruder height is critical to great prints– I prefer the z-level to be set so that there is a very faint impression left on blue painters tape when removing a PLA model.

Product Features

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