Mar 18, 2016 | By Kira

3D printer manufacturer XYZPrinting has recently had two 3D printing patents approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The first is for a 3D print head module with a wiper unit that removes excess material from nozzle tips, improving the quality of multi-extrusion 3D prints and facilitating nozzle maintenance. The second refers to a material level detecting mechanism that can measure the remaining amount of filament in a 3D printer without having to detach the cartridge.

illustrated perspective view of the wiper unit

XYZPrinting is one of the biggest names in consumer 3D printing right now. The Taiwan-based subsidiary of New Kinpo Group currently manufactures some of the most affordable and reliable desktop 3D printers on the market, and in 2015, was the global leader in the desktop/personal 3D printer space, owning nearly 22% of the international market.  In addition to the widely popular da Vinci line of 3D printers, which includes the da Vinci 1.0, da Vinci Junior, da Vinci AiO, da Vinci Pro, and Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer, XYZPrinting recently unveiled a whole slew of next-generation 3D printers for the consumer market, as well as plans to further expand into industrial 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, 3D food printing, and more.

The company’s success is a combination of the mass manufacturing experience of New Kinpo Group, the world’s third-largest OEM manufacturer; XYZPrinting’s mechanical engineering experience; and a few nifty 3D printing patents, two of which received U.S. approval this week.

The first 3D printing patent relates to multiextruder 3D printers. A problem that can arise in multi-extruder 3D printing, however, is that as the print head is switched from one to another, a small amount of residual material can be left behind on the tip of the nozzle. That residual material can drop onto the 3D-print-in-progress, contaminating the surface and resulting in sloppy color-switch lines.

XYZPrinting’s solution was to design a multiple print head module that includes a wiper unit attached to a pivot shaft that can wipe away residual material left on the nozzle tips. The wipers also cover the nozzles of the print heads that are not in use. Not only does this enhance the quality of the 3D printed object, facilitating the crisp, clean lines sought out in multicolor 3D prints, but it also simplifies the cleaning and maintenance of 3D printer nozzle tips.

schematic view of the printing head module according to an exemplary embodiment. 

a partial perspective view of the printing head

The second 3D printing patent refers to a mechanism for automatically detecting material levels inside a 3D printer. Current 3D printers that use refillable cartridges require users to physically detach the cartridge to ensure there is sufficient material left to complete the 3D print. “The detachment process of the current printing heads are often time consuming, manpower intensive, and costly,” wrote XYZPrinting. “As a result, to some extent, the current 3D printing process is still inconvenient and expensive in terms of maintenance and cost of the equipment operation.”

To remedy this, engineers devised a 3D print head mechanism with two pistons and two detecting units. Essentially, the first detecting unit is located at the side of the printing head and is used to detect the ‘home’ position of the first piston. The second detecting unit is located above the print head. The first piston triggers the second detecting unit, pushing the second piston downwards. The second detecting unit detects the initial and termination positions of the vertical movement, and can calculate the exact usage or remaining amount of material inside the 3D printing cartridge—all without any ‘manpower’ required from the user.

schematic view of a material level detecting mechanism

partial cross-sectional view of a material level detecting mechanism

Both patents, filed in 2014 by XYZPrinting, Inc., Kinpo Electronics, Inc., and Cal-Comp Electronics & Communications Company Limited, are designed to simplify and enhance the desktop 3D printing experience—the overarching goal of XYZPrinting itself. Having now received U.S. approval, it remains to be seen when and how they will be applied to future models within XYZPrinting's 3D printer range.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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John Pickens wrote at 3/22/2016 8:32:19 PM:

These drawings appear to show syringe-based extruder mechanisms. Not FDM.

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