Autodesk patent seeks to improve flexural strength of 3D printed objects with support posts

Jul 7, 2017 | By Benedict

Autodesk has had a patent approved for a “support posts” technique for improving the flexural strength of 3D printed objects. Originally filed in 2014, the newly approved patent gives Autodesk ownership of a different approach to support structures.

As with other industries, the filing of patents in 3D printing is a long and occasionally drawn-out process. That’s why this newly approved patent for Autodesk might not seem like the hottest news: new approaches to “support posts” on 3D printed objects have been discussed by the 3D printing company since at least 2015, and the patent was originally filed way back in August 2014.

But the approval of this patent could be important news for Autodesk, with 3D printing software companies each seeking to develop better ways of stopping 3D printing objects from falling apart while printing. In the patent, inventor Ryan Michael Schmidt discusses several “embodiments” of his proposed support posts technique.

Embodiment 1:

A computer-implemented method for generating a 3D printed object having support posts for improved flexural strengths is provided. The method includes identifying a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The method also includes for each of the one or more support posts, adding a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The method further includes transmitting one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The method also includes transmitting one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

Embodiment 2:

A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing instructions that, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform certain steps for improving the flexural strength of a 3D printed object is provided. The steps include identifying a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The steps also include for each of the one or more support posts, adding a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The steps further include transmitting one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The steps also include transmitting one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

Embodiment 3:

A system for generating a 3D printed object with improved flexural strength is provided. The system includes a processor. The processor is configured to identify a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The processor is also configured to for each of the one or more support posts, add a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The processor is further configured to transmit one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The processor is also configured to transmit one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

The differences between the three suggested embodiments are slight, but cover different ways in which the process could be triggered. The patent also specifies that this new approach to supports could improve the flexural strength of tall 3D printed objects (an upright candy cane is provided as an example) that cannot, for whatever reason, be reoriented to have fewer overall layers.

The patent was first published on February 26, 2016, the usual 18 months after the filing date. Read the approved patent in full here.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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