3D Printer Filament Feed System: Track, Quantify, Coat

Researchers at the University of Central Florida havedeveloped a novel 3D printer filament feed system that can track, quantify, andcoat/treat filaments used in additive manufacturing printers. Such capabilitiesare lacking in many 3D printer designs today, resulting in poor-quality prints,material mismanagement and wasted time. For example, many 3D printers can onlyindicate whether filament is available on a reel, not the actual amount.Therefore, a user receives no warning that a reel is almost empty. Similarly, asusers switch between filaments of different colors and materials, they can losetrack of the filament status and fall short of the amount needed to complete aprint. By measuring the linear movement of filament while dispensingit to a printer, the UCF device enables a user to accurately track the amountof filament left on a reel as well as the amount used, thus ensuring better controlover printing projects. Modular, stackable and portable, the new system workswith existing 3D printers and can be included in the manufacturing of newprinters. Technical Details The UCF invention is a system that translates, quantifies,tracks, and treats 3D printer filament during the additive manufacturingprocess. In one example setup, the system comprises four modules connected to a3D printer. One module is a motorized feeder that connects to a reel offilament and drives the filament through the other modules in the system. A secondmodule uses an optical or contact counter to track the bidirectional linear movementof the filament, allowing the system to calculate in real time the amount of usedand unused filament. The third module dries the filament, and the fourth moduleapplies colorant or other coatings to the filament before it enters theextruder. The stackable nature of the device allows for customization dependingon printing needs. John Miner John.Miner@ucf.edu 407.882.1136

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