Tennessee Tech University (TTU) announced today that it is launching TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D Printer designed, developed and fabricated by TTU faculty and students. TTU has applied for a provisional U.S. Patent on the 3D printer.
Although there are many 3D printers on the market today, the TechBot differs in its mobility. Most printers today demand a rigid frame structure. This new printer is not limited to a traditional work envelope as are other conventional 3D printers – the user can define and set up their own work surface to print almost any type of material from the paste-based extruder.
This is another key difference with the TechBot – it does not use traditional 3D printer materials, such as, filament, powder, pellets, or resin that are commonly used in several other additive manufacturing processes. It has a paste-based method, using a syringe, to dispense any paste type material on any X and Y direction. It can do 200mm in height on the Z axis.
The team has found a number of uses and applications for this Mobile printer:
- Using the TechBot mobile multitasking platform to develop a mobile tape applicator for multi-purpose gyms. This will result in a quick and precise method to convert a multi-purpose gym floor from a basketball court to a volleyball court.
- The TechBot platform can also be used to incorporate a fast drying paint extruder to paint team logos onto arena floors. During Sports tournaments, the TechBot could paint both team logos onto an arena floor within minutes. This paint can be removed with the appropriate dissolver.
- Another application for the TechBot platform is in the construction industry to extrude grout between tile gaps.
Other applications are being explored, across a wide range of areas, such as, 3D food printing (think cakes, pies, desserts) to circuit boards. The team has also looked into the printing of concrete structures with the TechBot.
The TechBot is designed to incorporate 4 omnidirectional wheels at the corners which greatly improves the print accuracy. The extrusion head is incorporated within the frame of the TechBot, this makes it possible for one z-axis to be capable of printing multiple materials using different extrusion methods. The TechBot is also offered as a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit (assembly required).
TechBot is funded through NSF Award 1601587, Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Research Team Members are:
The TechBot team also received technical support from Ed Tackett (University of Louisville), Amy Elliott (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Tom Singer (Sinclair Community College), and Mel Cossette (Edmonds Community College).
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Technical specs of the TechBot
- Size: X-37cm Y-37cm Z-66cm
- Max printing area: X-unlimited Y-unlimited Z-200mm
- OmniWheels: 60mm diameter
- Syringe Extruder: Uses a 150mL syringe
- Driven by a 40mm Nema 17 motor with a 27:1 gear ratio
- Lead screw is used for the up and down motion
- Syringe Extruder frame was designed in house
- Utilizes a filament run out sensor
- Board: MKS GEN L V1.0 Board
- Runs on marlin code
- Stepper Motors: 4x 48mm Nema 17 stepper motors
- Using Nema 17 motor mounts
- Frame: 2020 aluminum extrusion
- Size: 32cm x 32cm x 40cm
- Aluminum corner brackets and right angle plates for a perfectly square frame
- Z Axis: 34mm Nema 17 stepper motor turning a lead screw for z axis movement
- Supported by 2 linear guide rails with linear bearings