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The Evolution of 3D Printing

By Dick Weisinger

3D printing is a fabrication technique that can create objects with complex shapes and structures by depositing layers of material on top of each other. It has many advantages over traditional manufacturing methods, such as reducing waste, saving time and cost, and enabling customization. However, 3D printing also faces some challenges, such as finding the optimal parameters for each material, ensuring the accuracy and quality of the prints, and adapting to changing conditions.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that can help overcome these challenges and unlock new potential for 3D printing. AI can use machine vision and machine learning to monitor and control the 3D printing process in real time, correcting errors, predicting outcomes, and optimizing performance. AI can also enable 3D printers to print with multiple materials, including flexible ones, and to integrate existing objects or components into the prints.

Some examples of how AI is transforming 3D printing include:

  • MIT researchers have developed a machine-learning system that uses computer vision to watch the 3D printing process and adjust the parameters to minimize error. They trained the system in simulation, avoiding the costly trial-and-error associated with setting 3D printing parameters for new materials.
  • Inkbit, a startup out of MIT, has created a multi-material inkjet 3D printer that uses machine vision and machine learning to scan each layer of the object as it’s being printed and correct errors in real time. The printer can also print around existing objects or components, such as computer chips or electronic devices, and keep a digital replica of the final product for quality assurance.
  • Ai Build, a London-based company specializing in automated AI-based 3D printing technology, has developed a smart extruder for additive manufacturing that uses machine learning to detect and fix defects on the fly. The extruder can also adapt to environmental changes, such as temperature or humidity, and optimize the printing speed and quality.

AI is revolutionizing 3D printing by making it more intelligent, efficient, and versatile. It is opening up new possibilities for creating objects with novel shapes, functions, and properties that were not possible before. AI is also making 3D printing more accessible and affordable for various industries and applications, from medical devices to consumer products to industrial tooling. AI is the future of 3D printing.

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