6-axis 3D Printer

We just stumbled upon this video by Professor [Yong Chen] and his students [Xuan Song] and [Yayue Pan] on a 6-axis 3D printer. The group is from the University of Southern California and their project is called the “Development of a Low-cost Parallel Kinematic Machine for Multi-direction Additive Manufacturing”.

That’s right. 6-axes of 3D printing. It uses six linear actuators to move the tool head in almost any direction. The whole thing is powered by a KFLOP board by Dynomotion, a company dedicated to premium motion control for CNC manufacturing and robotics and automation.

In the video they give examples of printing on angled surfaces and cylindrical surfaces — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With 6-axes, parts could be designed with completely different characteristics, you could build up the base of a part, and then build off of it in different angles, no more horizontal layers throughout!

Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find any published information on their research, only this video — so stick around after the break and watch it in awe!

18 thoughts on “6-axis 3D Printer

  1. With their choice of bearings for the platform they limit movement a bit. Lots of more recent delta printers are using magnets instead of bearings, and they could be used here too.
    I’ve though of using a stewart platform for the bed, but never though of it for the extruder. Might be easy to adapt a delta to be like this, just need to have each diagonal rod on it’s own axis rather than having them in pairs.

  2. Really cool proof on concept. Making the software side usable will be hard though. If you think how hard it was to develop good slicers for just 3 axis and easy to predict layers. Think about usable auto generated arcs that were previously cut in many layers.

    This is not something imedeately added to my “want to build” list… Still could be a cool new type of highly complex 3d printers

  3. I’ve always thought that 3D printers had a leg up on CNC machines because of the “4D” aspect. The fact that a 3D printer needs not have a direct tool path. Layering completely or almost completely resolves this issue. Some CNC’s have multiple added axi to compensate for this and it makes sense. Multiple added axi on a 3D printer? Maybe not so much. At least, that’s how i see things.

    Hmm neat little star/favourite/like feature. Maybe it’ll promote a good tone around here…or subsequent e-peen. In reality it probably wont change much, except that interesting posts be bumped to the top? I always like that feature in stackoverflow. Makes sorting…eh… easier, let’s call it that.

    PS: the “like this” text is black

    1. Actually the ‘like this’ feature was very badly implemented and was not turned on by us (WordPress VIP pushing things in the background again). It was a nasty little JavaScript implementation so we’ve had it disabled again.

      However, we fully intend to move to a better comment system as soon as we get a chance.

      1. Disqus maybe? It came a long way since the first versions and now is a rock solid comment system. Please please please only make sure, that the cascadings are easy to read and that there is an option to close a parent comment to hide a branch, I dont want to read and get it out of my orientation (Like Reddit or Disqus does)

      2. Hey, this comment system is not bad at all. Disqus is a slow pile of cross site scripting– I really dislike it. Thanks for taking out the nasty javascript. I hope you don’t change the comment system and replace it with complex javascript.

  4. i understand that english may not be their first language, but its a professor and a student at the university of california.

    typos? did they not watch their video once before posting?

    Plus their sample prints (angled USC, and printing on a bottle) only showed the first layer. The first layer is easy. Build an actual product on both platforms, and post that.

    Hats off to them for working on it though. (wouldn’t a spinning rotating platform and a static extruder be easier?)

    1. Simply to receive a smooth surface without a layers scale. At 3DOF 3d-printers smooth only vertical or horizontal surfaces turn out. 6DOF printer will be able to form such smooth surfaces in almost any directions and shapes. And to use much less supporting layers. And to print stronger details because layers will go not in parallel, and to be crossed. Well generally in my opinion it is quite enough to wish to these researchers of good luck and success :)

        1. Yes, in range from 0 to 45 (may be larger, may be smaller, i dont know exactly what maximum angles available in this particular model). This is much better than 0 and 90 degrees only.

  5. There are a few questions for “why?” and there is one answer that is rarely discussed, which is strength of the printed part. The axis in which the print is “built” creates different strengths in different axis of the part. By using a higher DOF machine you allow for building certain parts or geometries in a direction that will provide the highest strength where and in what axis is required.

    Oh, and as always, “just because” is always my favorite answer…

  6. I can see this having benefits for 3 applications. Adding extrusion to an existing fabricated object, so you don’t require a flat build surface (not sure about adhesion). Second, adding additional surface details post processing to increase strength (different grain), or add previously challenging overhangs (already possible with a removable scaffolding).

    Anyone think of another advantage? Might be better if it had a cutting tools as well.

  7. Hello,
    in the papers I fpund in the web I found kind of plan how to build the kinematic. But if I want to make it and make it run so I should have a software that is suitable, preferable the same that the makers used or made. Mainly, this is because of maths, and aside there is some knowledge needed to command hardware parts. Does anyone if there is source cone running this 6-axis system?

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