Produce Additive-Manufactured Objects with Easily Removable Support Structures

Technology #34451

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Researchers
Fluvio Lobo Fenoglietto
External Link (pd3d.eecs.ucf.edu)
James Inziello
External Link (pd3d.eecs.ucf.edu)
Robert Sims
Jack Stubbs
External Link (pd3d.eecs.ucf.edu)
Managed By
John Miner
Assistant Director 407.882.1136
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Key points

  • Reduces the use of support material and associated costs
  • Enables the removal of structures from cavities and hard-to-access areas
  • Methods do not change the underlying design or topology of the part or assembly

Abstract

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed two technologies that help lower the cost and minimize the time associated with using support structures in additive manufacturing. One invention (Patent ID 34451) provides a cost- and time-saving method of printing additive manufactured objects and their support structures together. The other invention (Patent ID 34105) is a novel algorithm for calculating the length of the support material needed. Once an object is printed and cured, its support material is easily removable, and the object retains accurate physical properties.

Additive manufacturing relies on support material when fabricating complex parts or assemblies that would otherwise collapse during the build process. Examples of support material include linkages, hinges, and other design features that allow for part folding. Unfortunately, these additional materials increase costs and build time. The UCF inventions resolve these issues, enabling companies to accurately print objects with removable support structures without increasing costs or changing the design or topology of an object. The material is elongated and compliant and designed to provide optimal structural support for the object during printing and removal.

Technical Details

The following information summarizes the technical details associated with the technologies:

Patent ID 34451, Methods Of Removing Support Material From Additive Manufactured Objects—This invention provides a novel method for use with any additive manufacturing printer. It includes steps for developing a virtual model of an object's exterior and interior geometries. Other steps include determining the shape of the support material, calculating the amount of material to use, and determining an extraction point to remove the support material. The method can include the use of Patent ID 34105.

Patent ID 34105, Support Removal Technique for Additive Manufacturing—This invention is a support material generator program that automatically generates linear and curved inserts into channels in the cavity of a virtual model. With its unique algorithm, it searches for boundaries in the void volume of the object, sets up a shape and size for the support structure, and then fills the void space, indicating the amount and length of material to use. It also sets an extraction point to enable easy removal of the support material without tangling. The program currently works on Onshape, an online CAD package.

Partnering Opportunity

The research team is looking for partners to develop the technology further for commercialization.

Stage of Development

Prototype available.

Benefit

  • Enables the production of complex structures at less cost than existing technologies
  • Reduces support removal, clean-up or post-processing time (for example, technician time)
  • Works well with delicate, intricate models that may break with other support structure methods

Market Application

  • Printers with multi-material capabilities, including flexible materials
  • Orthotics and prosthetic designs
  • Wearable designs