How We Think

OUR PATH TO RELIABLE LOW COST 3D PRINTING

Orbweaver Spider spinneret piriform gland spigots with silk beginning to be extruded from the spigot tips (Tetragnatha). Spider spinnerets are organs located on the abdomen and the individual spinnerets move independently but in a highly coordinated manner to build cocoons or webs. Each spinneret is dotted with many tiny spigots, through which various types and thicknesses of silk are extruded. Credit: Dr. Dennis Kunkel

Orbweaver Spider spinneret piriform gland spigots with silk beginning to be extruded from the spigot tips (Tetragnatha). Spider spinnerets are organs located on the abdomen and the individual spinnerets move independently but in a highly coordinated manner to build cocoons or webs. Each spinneret is dotted with many tiny spigots, through which various types and thicknesses of silk are extruded.

 

In order for a fabrication technique to become a manufacturing method it must be repeatable and reliable. At Ecotonos we also want the minimal amount of material and energy waste. One of our current projects is to develop such a manufacturing system. The open hardware movement has allowed the widespread development and usage of digital fabrication technology and has produced several variations of positioning systems, all of which are fairly reliable with the correct calibrations. The area needing the most development is the material handling capabilities of such equipment along with the design and manufacturing system that follows. Currently I am developing Ecotonos' design guideline for material extruders and heated printing platforms, based on secondary research into the RepRap project and material science; along with primary research on our printer, to confirm secondary sources and test hypothesis on design decisions. Beyond the correct handling of common printed materials like PLA and ABS we are developing capabilities for higher temperature polymers like Nylon, and discovering ways to filter off-gassing at the source without needing larger systems for air handling. This research will develop into our Piriform Extruder System, for use in our evolving production systems. Stay tuned! Our hope is to develop a flexible and lean manufacturing system that allows for a greater design freedom, reliable local production of components with the minimal impact on the environment in which it operates.

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