VR Simulation of 3D Printers

Comparing different additive manufacturing products and technologies will provide students with an opportunity to compare a designated printed part by additive manufacturing machines available from three different companies, e.g., LutzBot™, FormLabs™, and UPrint™. The 3D printing technologies that employ these machines are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology (LutzBot™, and UPrint™) and Stereolithography technology (FormLabs™). The VR learning modules simulating different additive manufacturing technologies will provide students with materials and equipment needed to create the same part on three different AM machines. Students can utilize three different types of equipment to understand that the same technology can be demonstrated in different processes and still produce a similar product. Figure below shows the simulation of three popular 3D printing devices namely UPrint™, LutzBot™, and FormLabs™, from left to right.

MANEUVER Framework

VR Simulation of three 3D printing machines (UPrint™, LutzBot™, FormLabs™)

For the Additive Manufacturing comparison module, we will present the simulation results of two distinct 3D printing technologies: FDM and Stereolithography. For the FDM technology simulation, a pre-imported mesh was used to test the functionality of the 3D printer system with the LutzBot™ 3D printer. However, it is required that users be able to import their own models to see how the process works. In order to accomplish this, the same basic system from importing in the ideation scene was used. In this system, a model is loaded from the local directory and placed in an empty game object in the scene. A new empty game object prefab was created for the printer scene since this required a different material than the models imported in the previous scene. The simulation result of fused deposition modeling with LutzBot™ 3D printer is shown below.

MANEUVER Framework

Simulation of Fused Deposition Modeling Technology with LutzBot™ 3D Printer

To simulate stereolithography technology, The FormLabs™ 3D printer requires a new script for handling the motion of the printer. Unlike the FDM based 3D printer (and other standard filament printers) the FormLabs™ 3D printer creates material with PLA resin rather than strings of plastic filament. The motion consists of a printer head attached to the printer mesh which gradually pulls the mesh out of the vat of liquid. A scraper moves along the liquid to level it when the printer head is raised and a laser solidifies the material when the head is down and in the correct position. In order to create the motion of parts stopping and waiting for other parts, a co-routine was used. Co-routines are functions which run parallel to the main program and do not stop the functioning of the main program while loops are running. One can include a return inside of loops to cause only one iteration to run each frame. It also has return functions for waiting where after a defined number of seconds, the co-routine will resume running. Two different routines are used for the printer head and scraper. The scraper will only move while the head is moved up and is waiting to move down again. The laser motion runs when the FormLabs™ 3D printer head is down. It generates a random position within the printer bounds to simulate the rapid jumping around of the real printer. A co-routine is run with wait functions, albeit very fast ones, to change the position every tenth of a second (6 frames) rather than every frame. Figure. 13 shows the simulation result of stereolithography technology with FormLabs™ 3D printer.

MANEUVER Framework

Simulation of Stereolithography Technology with FormLabs™ 3D Printer