Some key players in the 3D printing industry are taking a beat, and paying attention to an issue that needs tending to: supports. When using the technology of 3D printing, one hears much about models and whether or not they will need supports, and if so, how to handle the challenge of dealing with them.
Supports are absolutely needed in the business of 3D printing, and slowly we are hearing about products and equipment that try to make that easier on the user, from 3D printers that automatically remove supports to products and chemicals that make it easier to remove them and eliminate all traces of them. Figuring out how to 3D print with supports has a learning curve all of its own, but that experience tends to imbue the 3D printing enthusiast with a great deal more confidence as well as skill in producing a quality 3D printed model.
From the industrial level, the more streamlined support systems and structures are, the better companies are able to produce high quality products — and experience higher levels of efficiency to boot. Deadlines are met faster and bottom lines are trimmed.
Simpleware and 3T RPD are looking at the big picture in terms of supports as they team up together for the GOSSAM project. This project is quite simply meant to create automation for supports as well as making the structures smarter.
Simpleware is a software developer creating extremely relevant material for the 3D printing medium, as they make tools that convert 3D images into CAD and 3D printed models for use in a host of different industries.
3T RPD is responsible for manufacturing light, high performance plastic and metal components that can only be produced through 3D printing. 3T RPD has a big responsibility quality-wise in the UK considering they produce approximately half of the plastic and metal components that are 3D printed there. One of their main focuses lies in freeing designers from traditional design constraints.
The GOSSAM, or Generation of Optimal Support Structure in Additive Manufacturing, project was created to change the perspective in the 3D printing industry by shifting the focus to supports, as they, surprisingly, can often make up 50% of a build mass and can cause production of 3D printed items to be more high maintenance when they require structures to prop up geometric areas helpless to stand on their own.
With the GOSSAM project, the new partners will be involved in the improvements made on the support end of 3D printing. GOSSAM is being sponsored by Innovate UK, as they strive to develop software that will orient and position parts as well as performing the revolutionary task of “generating intelligent scaffolds.” The whole point is to:
- Reduce set-up time
- Reduce build time
- Eliminate waste material wastage
- Create better post-processing times
- Go to “print from CAD” more efficiently
“This new project aims to reduce time to market for additive manufactured support structures, while taking away some of the complexity for designers working with CAD technologies,” Gareth James of Simpleware told 3DPrint.com.
Innovate UK is responsible for bringing together businesses, and research and development agencies to help produce innovative concepts and materials to meet market needs, and propel the economy of industry in the UK.