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Sequential additive manufacturing: automatic manipulation of 3D printed parts

Rafael Vidal Aroca (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Carlos E.H. Ventura (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Igor De Mello (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)
Tatiana F.P.A.T. Pazelli (Department of Electrical Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 20 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a monitoring system and the usage of a robotic arm to remove finished parts of a three-dimensional (3D) printer build plate, enabling 3D printers to continuously build a sequence of parts.

Design/methodology/approach

The system relies on a 2-degree of freedom planar manipulator. The moment to remove printed parts from the printer build plate can be determined based on direct communication with the 3D printer control software or using information from a computer vision system that applies background subtraction and Speeded up Robust Features methods.

Findings

The proposed system automatically detects the end of standard 3D print jobs and controls the robotic arm to remove the part.

Research limitations/implications

Lighting variation can deteriorate the response of the computer vision system, which can be minimized using a controlled illumination environment. In addition, the printer build plate edges must be free so the parts can slip off the printer build plate when the robot pushes them out.

Practical implications

The system enables a more practical and automatized usage of 3D printers, reducing the need of human operators.

Social implications

The proposed system can reduce work hours of laboratory personnel, as there is no need to remove the printed parts manually before another job starts.

Originality/value

Computer vision system monitors the printing process and the automation system that enables continuous sequential 3D printing of parts. A prototype is described, which can be easily replicated with low cost parts.

Keywords

Citation

Aroca, R.V., Ventura, C.E.H., De Mello, I. and Pazelli, T.F.P.A.T. (2017), "Sequential additive manufacturing: automatic manipulation of 3D printed parts", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 653-659. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-02-2016-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited