Personalized Fingerprint Stool, Custom Manufacturing with BigRep
As far as recent inventions go, the advantages of additive manufacturing make it one of the most promising technologies for a large branch of industrial systems for creating new parts and products. The ungated access to affordable manufacturing solutions and unparalleled reductions in the cost of low-volume high-mix manufacturing is one of the biggest advantages that 3D printing offers to businesses. Because of these combined possibilities, a wealth of personalized products have become available to the market from all sizes of businesses.
The affordability of large-format additive technology has even changed the way professionals are introduced to manufacturing processes, which now often begins during post-secondary education with in-house industrial 3D printers. Numerous progressive schools, universities, and educational institutions across various disciplines are integrating 3D printing technology into their classrooms and curriculums that will allow students to envision, hold, and test their ideas in real spaces.
After Australia’s University of Technology Sydney (UTS) acquired a BigRep ONE large-format 3D printer in their fabrication lab, ProtoSpace, they were eager to flex their new additive muscles and create a publishable case study. The task was taken on by Dr. James Novak, at the time a postdoctoral researcher at UTS (now a Research Fellow in additive manufacturing at Deakin University) who set out to create a showcase-worthy design that would test the BigRep ONE’s capabilities and highlight its potential to produce highly customizable end-use products.
Novak set about manufacturing the stool to produce a unique design that tests the BigRep ONE’s capabilities. Thus, to highlight the potential to produce personalized products on the 3D printer, Novak created the stool from him and his wife’s fingerprints, which are incorporated into the design using complex geometry.
“It was designed when my wife and I got engaged and feature the ring fingerprint impressions from both of us,” said Novak. He noted the project was conceived in part because of the absolute individuality of a fingerprint, highlighting the unmatched level of personalization that additive manufacturing offers.
Novak opted to incorporate fingerprints within the project due to their absolute individuality, to showcase the level of personalization that can be achieved using additive manufacturing. The fingerprint stool features an organic design with fingerprint ridges connected by supports between the empty spaces. Both fingerprints then merge in the open mid-section of the design.
The process of 3D printing the stool was simplified with the use of a support raft, which helped to ensure that the first layers of the design didn’t warp, as these layers are initially unconnected. However, Novak comments that the stool can still be 3D printed without a support raft using the right build platform adhesive.
Novak’s personalized stool also demonstrates the potential of large-format 3D printing for lean manufacturing, where customized items can be produced in small batches. Multiple independent designs can be implemented within the same production run on the BigRep ONE’s build volume.
Using only a small portion of the BigRep ONE’s build volume, multiple independent designs like Novak’s stool can be easily completed in the same production run, and production speed can be easily increased by taking advantage of large format’s scalability – adding to existing machines by opting for performance enhancements like a second extruder to run in tandem.
With this unparalleled flexibility and potential for customization, large-format additive presents an accessible, future-ready manufacturing solution.