Since my last post, I have been extremely busy, working to submit the project before the deadline, which is why I haven’t posted for a while. Having now submitted my work, I have written this post as an attempt at rounding off the project narrative by summarising the final design.
The Above link will take you to an A360 page containing a model of the final design.
As you can see, the design has been altered slightly, for example, the amount of bolts needed to assemble the spool holder, to make it easier to do so. You may also notice that the flange profile on the machine bracket has been greatly reduced, adapting to the reduction in the amount of bolts within the assembly, saving on unnecessary material.
The final design consists of three main components.
The Arm transfers the force of the weight of the filament to the printer it’s attached to. This is the part that bears most of the load and so needed to be fabricated in a strong material, using a capable 3D Printing technique. As a result it was manufactured using continuous fibre fabricated, carbon fibre reinforced Onyx by Markforged. This acted as a substitute for the stainless steel part which didn’t arrive until after the project deadline.
Since this will be a high strength part with longevity, it’s important that it can be kept for a long period of time. Therefore, I decided to design a bracket to interface between the arm and the printer itself, which could be swapped out, should I upgrade to a new printer, or want to use it on a different one. The bracket needed to fit securely into the complex profile of the v-slot aluminium extruded beam on the machine itself, whilst still being removable/adjustable. As a result, a process with high geometric precision was required to fabricate the final prototype of this part. Naturally, one of the Formlabs SLA machines was chosen to print this part in Grey Resin (since the Tough Resin I had originally intended on printing it in also failed to arrive on time). This produced a part that slid snugly between the end of the arm component, and my 3D printer, providing a secure, durable fit.
Finally, another component was needed to attach the arm to the pin, on which the filament spool sits. Since most of the weight is supported by the arm and the machine bracket, this additional bracket didn’t have large mechanical responsibility, and would ideally be cheaper, since the other two parts would consist of more expensive materials. As a result, this ‘Spool Bracket’ was printed in rPETg using fused filament fabrication, mainly due to the lack of requirement for the part to withstand large mechanical stress.
In Summary, I saw this project as an opportunity to learn more about the generative design workspace within Autodesk fusion 360, and how it can be used to optimise parts, minimising the amount of material required perform as specific function. However, I have also learnt about the current limitations involved with this workspace and, whilst there is consideration into manufacturing techniques, I don’t believe that additive manufacturing is sufficiently accommodated.
I have attempted to design and additively manufacture a set of components that harness each of the technologies and materials used, to perform the very simple and specific function of suspending a 1kg reel of filament next to my 3D printer. Part of this attempt was utilising technologies and/or materials that I had never used before. Whilst this may not have been done to the extent that I had originally intended, I was able to adapt to issues such as problematic lead times and breakdowns in machinery, to produce a set of artefacts with sound consideration and justification in their design and fabrication.
The main example of this was the generatively designed arm, through which most of the force applied by the reel of filament is transferred. This function invited the use of stainless steel to fabricate a structurally sound part, harnessing the materials strength. Since I was unable to execute this plan before the deadline, I employed CFF to manufacture the functional part from carbon fibre reinforced nylon, another material renowned for its strength, resulting in the part still harnessing a process and material that I had never previously explored, and therefore still adding to my portfolio of existing work.
Having said this, I will be continuing this project further, eventually executing my original plan of printing the arm component in stainless steel (and powder-jet printing a physical representation of the static stress analysis results) and the machine bracket using Formlabs Tough Resin to take advantage of the properties of both processes and materials. It is only until after I have done this that I will be adding the project to my portfolio.
I hope to continue harnessing different technologies and materials to fabricate a variety of functional objects in the future, expanding my list of experience and knowledge of additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0.