Ulendo, a University of Michigan spin-out specializing in 3D printing software, launched its Ulendo FBS software tool at RAPID+TCT 2022.
The program is designed to allow users to increase their print speeds up to 100% without having to degrade part quality. It works by modifying a 3D printer’s firmware to compensate for real-world vibrations and is compatible with any 3D printer that leverages a moving mechanical print head.
“If you want to reduce the vibrations of a moving object, most of the time you can do it by slowing down. But since 3D printing is already very slow, this solution creates another problem,” said Chinedum Okwudire, associate professor of mechanical engineering and founder of Ulendo “Our solution allows you to print quickly without sacrificing quality.”
Double printing speeds with Ulendo FBS
Extrusion 3D printing has come a long way since its inception, but many of today’s desktop systems still have to operate at relatively slow print speeds due to vibration generated by moving components. If a machine prints too fast, users run the risk of creating flaws in parts.
Designed to solve the problem of print speed, Ulendo FBS is based on a vibration compensation algorithm that mitigates the effects of annoying system vibrations. Essentially, the software tool predicts when a 3D printer may be about to experience vibration and dynamically adjusts the trajectory of the printhead to combat it. So printers running Ulendo FBS can safely increase their print speeds without worrying about ruining the surface quality of parts.
Okwudire adds: “Suppose you want a 3D printer to move in a straight line, but due to vibrations the motion is moving upwards. The FBS algorithm tricks the machine into telling it to follow a downward path, and when it tries to follow that path, it moves straight.
FBS stands for Filtered B Splines, which is the name of the mathematical function used by the software to create the vibration compensation commands.
Developing the Ulendo ecosystem
Okwudire came up with the idea for vibration compensation software while working in conventional manufacturing. He had encountered milling machines that vibrated constantly and could not simply stiffen the frames of the machines to dampen the vibrations.
He started as a professor at the University of Michigan in 2011, where he eventually had the time and resources to begin designing software specifically to combat machine vibration. In 2017, one of his lab’s graduate students successfully implemented his software on a 3D printing system.
Brenda Jones, CEO of Ulendo, said, “Members of the 3D printing industry have the same jaw-dropping reaction I had when I first heard how this technology is resulting in a printer operating at twice the speed and 10 times the acceleration.
Eventually, Okwudire founded Ulendo to commercialize his technology and even received a $250,000 R&D grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) US seed fund program last year. Much of the company’s business development was also funded by an MTRAC grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The Ulendo team is currently working on developing the FBS algorithm to be compatible with a wider range of machines, including robots, machine tools, and other types of 3D printers. At RAPID+ TCT, Okwudire also showcased the latest innovation from his lab – SmartScan. The software tool is able to dynamically adjust the trajectory of a laser beam to prevent warping of parts during 3D printing by powder bed fusion.
The latest additive manufacturing software
The world of 3D printing software is brimming with innovation and this week’s RAPID+ TCT 2022 show was packed with software news: Materialize showcased the latest iteration of its Magics print preparation program, Dyndrite signed several new partnerships software development company and Freemelt has launched its new Pixelmelt Process Optimization Software.
Materialize also recently announced its new CO-AM open software platform, a comprehensive 3D printing process management tool for the industrial sector. The platform is aimed at high-volume manufacturers and offers a cloud-based method to access a wide variety of software tools (including third-party tools) to plan, manage and optimize the 3D printing workflow .
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Featured image shows Chinedum Okwudire and students in his lab at the University of Michigan. Photo via Evan Dougherty.