In an ideal world, there would be no gap between designing a part and the part tangibly existing.
Assemblies would fit together effortlessly, bearings would spin perfectly aligned shafts without any pre-stresses for low cost and complex geometries would look as beautiful in person as they do in CAD.
Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect.
Tolerancing serves a simple purpose: explicitly defining how wrong a part can be while still being usable.
Its brilliance is in its adaptability: designers can set common sense goals for fabricators to achieve while machining parts.
This both limits cost on parts that require less precision while also ensuring that incredibly precise parts are fabricated such that they can function effectively.
While part tolerancing is an incredibly effective tool for designers, they’re a necessary evil for fabricators.
Each defined dimension needs to be painstakingly measured, checked, and verified by a machinist before it can be qualified.
Defining tolerances effectively closes the loop for designers; however, checking them remains a decidedly open-loop tool for machinists.
Parts can only be measured after a fabrication process is completed, which means it’s nearly impossible to know if a feature is perfect before it’s been fabricated.
This problem exists in almost all fabrication processes, but it’s particularly problematic with 3D printed parts.
3D printers are a completely open loop.
Once a file is uploaded to a printer, its adherence to tolerances is unmeasurable until the completion of the print. That’s what we’re trying to change with in-process inspection. We want to take the guess work out of our processes and give users unprecedented transparency into their prints.
The Mark X takes the first step in closing the loop in 3D Printing.
Here’s a quick walkthrough of how users will be able to leverage the process to improve their workflow when creating 3D printed parts.
- When setting up a part in Eiger, the user defines layers to be scanned. The scans will vary in time with part size and scan resolution.
- After a layer is scanned, the details of that scan are accessible through Eiger, our cloud based software.
- Within this scan, the user can manipulate Eiger to check dimensions the on different aspects of their part. Using these tools, a user can quickly and easily check if a part is within tolerance while it is still printing.
- If the user is unsatisfied with the dimensions of the print, they may cancel it at any time.
While the loop is still human-closed, we’re giving users a much closer look at how their parts are printing mid print.
Looking at the Future of 3D Printed Parts.
However, it’s also just the first step in making 3D printing fully closed-loop.
Additive Manufacturing should be as smart, inexpensive, and reliable as possible.
The Mark X is an amazing machine; in fact, we’ve barely scratched the surface in working with the laser hardware ecosystem. In the coming months, our engineers will continue to leverage the laser to create easier to use and more advanced software.
Buying a Mark X is not merely purchasing a machine. Instead, it’s an investment in the future of fully automated 3D printing. This is merely the first step in closing the loop, and we’ll continue to keep working towards enabling an ideal manufacturing world.