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Automated storage and active cleaning for multi-material digital-light-processing printer

Christopher-Denny Matte (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University , Montreal, Canada)
Michael Pearson (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University , Montreal, Canada)
Felix Trottier-Cournoyer (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University , Montreal, Canada)
Andrew Dafoe (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University , Montreal, Canada)
Tsz Ho Kwok (Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Concordia University , Montreal, Canada)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 21 August 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a novel technique for printing with multiple materials using the DLP method. Digital-light-processing (DLP) printing uses a digital projector to selectively cure a full layer of resin using a mask image. One of the challenges with DLP printing is the difficulty of incorporating multiple materials within the same part. As the part is cured within a liquid basin, resin switching introduces issues of cross-contamination and significantly increased print time.

Design/methodology/approach

The material handling challenges are investigated and addressed by taking inspiration from automated storage and retrieval systems and using an active cleaning solution. The material tower is a compact design to facilitate the storage and retrieval of different materials during the printing process. A spray mechanism is used for actively cleaning excess resin from the part between material changes.

Findings

Challenges encountered within the multi-material DLP technology are addressed and the experimental prototype validates the proposed solution. The system has a cleaning effectiveness of over 90 per cent in 15 s with the build area of 72 inches, in contrast to the previous work of 50 per cent cleaning effectiveness in 2 min with only 6 inches build area. The method can also hold more materials than the previous work.

Originality/value

The techniques from automated storage and retrieval system is applied to develop a storage system so that the time complexity of swapping is reduced from linear to constant. The whole system is sustainable and scalable by using a spraying mechanism. The design of the printer is modular and highly customizable, and the material waste for build materials and cleaning solution is minimized.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant # RGPIN-2017-06707. The authors would also like to thank Ranger Design for the services and resources provided.

Citation

Matte, C.-D., Pearson, M., Trottier-Cournoyer, F., Dafoe, A. and Kwok, T.H. (2019), "Automated storage and active cleaning for multi-material digital-light-processing printer", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 864-874. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-08-2018-0211

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited