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A 3D printer's moving parts can lead to vibrations and a flawed final product. Engineers at the University of Michigan anticipated the problem — and now, thanks to their algorithms, machines can do the same.

The "filtered b-spline algorithms" use a model of a printer's dynamic behavior to anticipate when a printer may vibrate excessively. The algorithms read ahead for shaky signs of trouble — and adjust the system’s motions accordingly.

The research was conducted in the Smart and Sustainable Automation Research Lab at the University of Michigan College of Engineering under associate professor of mechanical engineering Chinedum Okwudire.

“Our software is like that person who realizes their voice is going to be overly amplified,” Okwudire said. “It acts preemptively because it knows that the behavior of the printer is going to be ahead of time.

When it comes to 3D printing technologies, the University of Michigan algorithm creators aren't the only ones thinking ahead. Here are five 3D printing innovations with an eye toward the future:

3D-Printed ‘Unweldable’ Aluminum

Researchers from HRL Laboratories developed a technique for 3D printing high-strength, unweldable aluminum alloys — highly desirable for manufacturing aircraft and automobile parts — which were among thousands not previously amenable to 3D printing.

Rapid Liquid Printing

Researchers from MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab introduce an experimental process they’re calling ‘Rapid Liquid Printing,’ which lets users physically draw in 3D space within a gel suspension.

‘Hybrid 3D Printing’ Electronics

A hybrid 3D printing technique developed at Harvard University combines stretchable conductive inks and electronic components into durable wearable devices that move naturally with the body.

Liquid Metal 3D Printing

A father and son team in University at Buffalo’s START-UP NY program have invented a liquid metal 3D printing machine that uses aluminum wires, and could represent a significant transformation in manufacturing.

Printing the Unprintable: Kapton

Kapton, often mistaken for 'gold foil,' is used in the multi-layer insulation that forms the outer wrapping of spacecraft and satellites. Until now, it has only been available in sheet form. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered a way to 3D-print a Kapton-like polymer into structures. Tech Briefs spoke with the Virginia Tech engineers about the technology's possibilities.

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