Natalie M. Rudolph Dr.-Ing., Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) has become one of the fastest growing Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies. Because of the breadth of materials, their nontoxicity, and the low price of both materials and printers, FFF is the ideal process for distributed manufacturing of customized products. Caused by the stacking of 2D layers, the resulting 2.5D components are weaker than injection molded parts and exhibit extensive anisotropy of their properties. Real 3D printing will allow printing in any plane and direction, thus enabling unrestricted design freedom in all three dimensions. Here, the anisotropy of the properties is considered an advantage, because FFF is able to preferentially orient filaments in contrast to all other current manufacturing technologies. This will further improve part strength in various load cases, while at the same time reducing building and support material consumption and part weight.
The presentation will describe a 6-axis robotic printer for unreinforced plastics that uses the robot as the build platform as well as stationary print heads. The tool path planning and printing procedure will be explained and sample parts will be presented. In addition, one variation of the process will be shown that uses continuous fiber reinforced thermoset prepreg for real 3D printing using this equipment.