Aug 4, 2015 | By Simon

Although we consistently hear about new additive manufacturing technologies that were developed at various universities around the world, the majority of these technologies are developed by a team of material scientists while working in a controlled lab environment with funds from a grant.  

For industrial designer Reinout Holtrup however, a student at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, pushing what’s possible with DLP 3D printing came in the form of his own bachelor assignment.

In an effort to find a solution for being able to print in multiple colors and materials using the highly-accurate Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing process, Holtrup ultimately ended up designing and building his own prototype for a DLP 3D printer that is capable of combining five materials and/or colors within a single 3D print.  Since this was something that had never been attempted before (at least publicly), Holtrup had to devise a solution from the ground up.  The result is the XZEED Multi-Material DLP Printer.

“Enabling material switching during printing might enable building new products, which can have electric conductive paths, or regionally adjustable stiffness, for example,” explains Holtrup in his final essay.  

“For me this project was a bit different than the other projects in my bachelor since a fully-functional prototype had to be built from scratch.   Looking at the result I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved in the limited time of only three months. Every part fits very neatly as I have designed and the printer looks very professional.”

The final printer design - which utilizes a horizontally-moving tray - makes use of five 100mm borosilicate petri dishes as ‘vats’ that contain different types of resin.  Because of the bottom-up method of additive manufacturing that the DLP printing process utilizes, the printer is capable of lifting the object out of one resin tank and into another multiple times during a printing process.     

To build the printer, Holtrup started with a Megatronics V3 motherboard with Marlin firmware installed in order to control the customized printing operation.  From here, he built out the printer with other necessary components for the DLP printing process including a Benq PB7230 light projector as his light source.  To build the body, he laser cut the panels of his housing design using medium-density fiberboard while over 55 parts including bearings and clips were created using a 3D printer.     


Although the build was relatively straightforward, Holtrup had to improvise some design solutions along the way to better refine his design.  Among others, he decided to use a layer of oxygen-permeable PDMS on the vat floor to help prevent the printed object from sticking to a vat floor.  In doing so, it was easier for the object to be lifted across multiple vats without sticking.  

Because he only had three months to research the technology, source the parts, determine the design direction, design the parts, fabricate the parts, assess design or engineering problems and ultimately, write a lengthy report on the process, the result is undoubtedly an impressive feat that not only highlights what could one day be possible with DLP 3D printing, but also just how much talent Holtrup has as a critical-thinking industrial designer.  

To read Holtrup’s build process in-full, the school has published his final essay on their website.  

Posted in 3D Printers



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Gizmo 3D Printers wrote at 5/27/2016 5:59:44 AM:

Please find a link to a public study done in 2012 to do this

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