An experimental five axis FFF 3D printer has been developed.
A student at the IWK Institute of Materials Science and Plastics Processing in Germany, Daniel Aeschbacher, has created a 5-axis FFF 3D printer, called the “5X”.
The Head of AM at the institute, Daniael Omidvarkarjan, explained on LinkedIn:
”One of our bachelor students (Daniel Aeschbacher) developed a five-axis fused filament fabrication printer. The two additional rotation axes enable the conformal printing of components and the elimination of support structures.”
Very little information has been published regarding the device, but there is a short one minute video showing its operations on LinkedIn.
In the video we can see that the device indeed has five axes of motion. There is the usual 3-axis cartesian motion system, but the print plate is the interesting part.
The plate can tilt, the fourth axis of motion, as shown here:
This allows the 5X to print some 3D models without any need for support. Overhangs are temporarily eliminated by simply tilting the print as required during operations.
However, while the demonstration is impressive, it’s important to note that there will still be an occasional need for support with pathological geometries.
The print plate can also rotate, which is the fifth axis of motion. This motion allows the 5X to print circular structures quite easily.
The 5X also has the capability of printing in multiple materials, although we’re not shown exactly how that is accomplished. It’s likely through a filament switch.
While the mechanicals are more sophisticated than you’d see on any typical 3D printer, the key to the 5X is no doubt in the software. Running anything with five axes of motion requires complex software. I suspect that much of Aeschbacher’s work focused on software controls.
The 5X is at this point only a research project and is not available, neither commercially nor through open source. However, the concept appears quite feasible and it may be that an existing 3D printer manufacturer may engage with Aeschbacher to produce the design.
Either that or Aeschbacher could consider launching a startup company to produce the 5X or a derivative of the technology.