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Zurich Students Develop New 3-D Printers

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Zurich Students Develop New 3-D Printers
Zurich Students Develop New 3-D Printers

Video: Zurich Students Develop New 3-D Printers

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Video: ETH Zurich casts intricate metal facade in a 3D-printed mould 2023, January

The ZHAW master students Denis Herrmann and Oliver Tolar have developed the prototype of a novel 3D printer. Their method is based on the widespread and inexpensive melt layer process. The special feature of the newly developed device is that not only the print head, but also the printing plate can be moved. In this way, the printer is able to print objects with large overhangs, such as the curved fingers of a prosthetic hand.

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On the other hand, with conventional 3D printers, a support structure is necessary from a certain angle in the melt layer process. "With our device, overhangs can be printed without an additional support structure, which saves material and printing time," says Denis Herrmann. “In addition, support structures often leave visible traces that have to be removed manually. This additional step is eliminated thanks to our method."

Controlling the printing process as a challenge

As part of several in-depth work, the two master's students developed and built their prototype at the ZHAW Institute for Mechatronic Systems (IMS). The prototype is a combination of three-axis kinematics for the print head and three-axis rotating kinematics for the swiveling printing plate. The students used existing components for the construction.

"The challenge was not so much in building the prototype, but rather in correctly controlling this six-axis printing process with software," explains Oliver Tolar. Initial tests have now shown that objects can be produced without the need for supporting structures by using the additional axes.

The supervising ZHAW lecturer Wilfried Elspass is convinced of the work of his students: “The new printer even makes it possible, so to speak, to encase objects made of other materials from the outside, so that they are integrated directly into the printed component. That is definitely of interest to industry.”

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