Custom Mechanisms for Tunable Material Deposition

2014  Laucks, J., MS Thesis, MIT

Digital fabrication tools, speci cally additive manufacturing systems, have consistently
advanced in efficiencies such as print speed, gantry size, material cost and ease
of use. However, most of these systems remain limited in their ability to enable automated
mixing and extrusion of multiple materials with variable properties on large
scales. This thesis focuses on the fi rst steps of realizing this enabling technology by
operating across two distinct trajectories. The rest aims at digitally controlling precision
path placement of material with high levels of tunability through analog mixing,
while the second explores do-it-yourself tool customization, compactness, portability
and the possibility of fabrication node-to-node communication. Inspired by the silkworm's
ability to spin highly sophisticated and tunable material architectures, the
aim of this thesis is to develop an enabling technology for digital fabrication requiring
high levels of material tunability in product and architectural scales. Speci cally,
I designed, developed, built and evaluated an array of six unique customizable and
compact deposition heads for tunable material properties. Amongst those tools is a
freeform extrusion head for tunable geometry without the need for auxiliary support
structure; a fast thread deposition head and a fi ber winding head for tunable compressive
and tensile strength respectively; a portable cable-suspended paste droplet
extrusion head for tunable drop size of paste material; and a chitosan gel extrusion
head for tunable plasticity using biomaterials. Operating across the two trajectories
of tunability and portability, this thesis argues that highly tunable, compact and
portable extrusion heads developed within a Fab Lab environment can support variable
property printing of one or more materials outside of commercial based systems.
This capability will in the future enable the digital fabrication of larger-scale prototypes,
sustainable products and architectural structures inspired by nature in Fab
Lab settings.

Custom Mechanisms for Tunable Material Deposition

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