Freeform 3D Printing
Sustainable Digital Fabrication
2012-2013, KUKA Robotic Arm & ABS / HDPE Extrusion
MIT Medial Lab
Most additive manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing utilize support materials in the fabrication process. Beyond the technical challenges of support removal these materials are wasteful – increasing fabrication and processing time while impacting quality. This tool presents “Freeform Printing”, a novel design approach for 3D printing without additional auxiliary structures. A 6-axis KUKA robotic arm is repurposed as a 3D printing platform onto which custom-designed thermoplastic extruders are attached. We demonstrate freeform extrusion using a round nozzle attached to an active air-cooling unit, which solidifies the material upon extrusion. In addition, we present a method for printing geometrically complex structures using a multi-strand extrusion nozzle. These experiments represent a sustainable approach to additive manufacturing and digital fabrication at large, and point towards new possible directions in sustainable manufacturing.