Continuous Fiber Composite 3D Printer Path Planning

Continuous Fiber Composite 3D Printer Path Planning

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continuous fibers

A recent study looked at a head trajectory mapping algorithm for a 3D FDM printer that uses long fiber composite materials. The goal is to propose a path that blocks the intersection points on the same layer and thus breaks the fiber bundle present in the array. Thus, the user can better control the composite prints and have more resistant and durable parts. The team behind this project relied on the Eulerian graph and Hierholzer’s algorithm to create this print path by incorporating different constraints that can be adapted.

Composite materials are now popular with additive manufacturing users because they provide a weight/strength ratio without sacrificing engineering complexity. The market has grown rapidly with more manufacturers offering continuous fiber 3D printing solutions. As a reminder, continuous fibers are deposited at the same time as the matrix, hence the need for a specific 3D printer. The short fibers are mixed with the base polymer, which is then extruded by machine. You doubt it, each process will have different results but also its own limitations. In continuous 3D fiber printing, the deposition of the fibers creates greater complexity than either the nozzle path or the chipping. If too much material is deposited on the same layer, especially at the level of intersection points, it may break the fiber bundle. Therefore it will be necessary to limit the fibers where there is an intersection.

Continuous Fiber Composite 3D Printer Path Planning

The team relied on the European track that allows each edge in the graph to be crossed

On this point the team of researchers worked. The idea is to create a path all at once, and thus continuously, which will not cut the filament for each layer thus creating these famous intersection points. This printing model gave rise to an Euler graph: based on the Hierholzer algorithm, the team was able to determine the optimal printing path for the FDM 3D printer head. Each step of the algorithm corresponds to a path in one stroke. She then printed the honeycomb structures and observed the results with the ScanXmate-L080TT X-ray scanner.

Currently, some small gaps are found in the curved part of the peaks. Therefore, the team is in the process of modifying the algorithm parameters to reduce these flaws, particularly in terms of fiber alignment or even shape reproduction. However, I showed that this computed path was designed for complex geometries, with lattice structures. We can imagine how it can be combined with design principles such as topological optimization. If you want to go further, feel free to refer to the study published here.

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*Cover Image Credits: Markforged

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