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Proceedings of CAD'14, 2014, 106-108
Reconfigurable Multi-material Layered Manufacturing

S. H. Choi, Y. Cai, H. H. Cheung, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract. Despite recent advances in layered manufacturing (LM) technology, which is now often called 3D printing, most practicable systems can fabricate only objects of a single material or relatively simple objects of a limited number of materials.   There has indeed been pressing demand for complex multi-material objects to facilitate advanced product development and biomedical applications. Some experimental multi-material layered manufacturing (MMLM) systems have been adapted from vector-based LM processes for fabrication of multi-material objects. Vector-based LM processes drive tools or nozzles in linear motions to deposit fabrication materials.  They offer versatile choice of materials, better control of material composition, high material utilisation, and convenient maintenance.  However, there are several shortcomings, particularly with respect to fabrication materials, speed, and build volume. To mitigate the above shortcomings in MMLM systems, this paper proposes integration of reconfigurable manufacturing (RM) with layered manufacturing (LM) to develop reconfigurable systems for multi-material layered manufacturing.  Reconfigurable MMLM would not only avoid clumsiness of attaching many nozzles to a single actuator, but also facilitate effective fabrication of objects larger than the work envelope of a single actuator.

Keywords. Reconfigurable manufacturing, multiple robotic actuators, multi-material layered manufacturing, virtual prototyping, digital fabrication

DOI: 10.14733/cadconfP.2014.106-108