May 18, 2016 | By Tess

All makers are well acquainted with the infill setting, which could quite literally make or break your 3D printed model. The setting, which determines the internal density of a 3D print, and thus its strength, has generally been set by percentages and infill patterns (such as rectilinear, honeycomb, and concentric patterns to name but a few). Earlier today, however, additive manufacturing solutions company Type A Machines announced the launch of new system that will effectively redefine settings for the functional internal geometry of 3D printed parts.

The California-based company’s new infill system consists of two innovations, which they’ve called Absolute Dimensions and 3D Internal Structures. The two new methods of designing and determining the density of 3D printed parts, which are designed to work in tandem, are an effort to go beyond and evolve from the idea of the infill as a 2D geometry, repeated layer after layer. By conceiving of the infill as a 3D internal structure, Type A Machines is hoping to allow designers and engineers to create more consistent, structurally complex, and predictable parts in less time.

As mentioned, typically infill settings are determined by percentages, but as Type A Machines explain in a press release, this is problematic as there is no established standard for converting percentages into densities. What this means in practice is that from machine to machine, from system to system, the same percentage can result in different densities. Additionally, because infill patterns are usually expressed as 2D designs built upon each other, makers are not well equipped to anticipate certain mechanical characteristics that may be desired.

Andrew Rutter, Type A Machines Founder and CTO explains, “Thinking of a part's internal geometry as infill is to fundamentally misunderstand the role of internal structure in a 3D printed part. It is akin to ignoring more than half the object. The term "infill" is inaccurate. We need to understand it for what it truly is, internal structure."

To offer a solution to this density/infill problem and to move beyond it, Type A Machines have developed Absolute Dimensions and 3D Internal Structures, which will offer designers and engineers a more reliable way of both designing and predicting the material and structural properties of their 3D printed parts. The first shift offered by Type A Machines’ new system—Absolute Dimensions—is a change from percentages to a common and invariable measurement, millimeters. This change they say will bring about “a fundamental shift in thinking about the printed part.”

Traditional infill

The second step in the process, of leveraging 3D internal structures, will effectively transform the 2D infill pattern into a 3D isotropic structure, meaning that the 3D printed part will have consistent and equal mechanical properties throughout. The internal structure is described by the company as “an infinitely repeating tessellating cubic lattice”, which will not only increase strength and uniformity, but will make for more predictable print times.

Absolute Dimensions and 3D Internal Structure can be found as new features in the public beta release of Cura Type A 1.5, which can be downloaded here.



Posted in 3D Software



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