Makefast Workshop releases source code for mid-air 3D printing of coils without supports | 11/21/2018 | Staff
jster97 (Posted by) Level 3
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Makefast Workshop, the Delaware-based design and fabrication studio that brought us LightNudge, published a tutorial on their hacks page detailing how to 3D print coils/springs in mid air without support material. For all the overhang masters out there, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

3D printing unlocks geometries and shapes not possible with other forms of manufacturing, but each type of 3D printer has its own limitations. With FDM (fused deposition modeling) machines, one of the greatest limitations is overhangs, or any angle greater than 45°. Each part is 3D printed from the bottom up, with successive layers building atop one another. So if a part has steep dips and valleys on its underside, that part would need pillars of support material underneath the overhanging areas to be 3D printed. Support material can be costly and leaves imperfections when removed from parts, so most designers try to avoid overhangs by using angle-reducing chamfers and fillets in models that will be 3D printed on an FDM machine.

Makefast - Duo - Maura - Atwater - Adam

The Makefast duo Maura Atwater and Adam Kumpf are problem solvers with degrees from Wellesley College and MIT, respectively, and they tackled the overhang problem like any other: with a little common sense and a lot of trial and error. They realised the fundamental issue with overhangs is the layers. The solution: rather than extrude layers on top of each other, extrude directly onto the extruded stream itself.

Thermoplastics like ABS and PLA used in 3D printing have excellent glass-liquid transition properties, meaning they melt and solidify consistently and predictably when heated and cooled. By extruding the plastic very slowly, the print head is directed to move at the same rate; the fans on the print head cool...
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