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Robotic 3D printing that can speed up production

Fahad Ahmad Khan in front of the robot arm.
Fahad Ahmad Khan next to the robotic 3D printer.
Published Feb 10, 2021

Hi Fahad Ahmad Khan, you have built a 3D printer from scratch that is collaborating with an industrial robot hand. What is robotic 3D printing - compared to “ordinary” 3D printing?

“I am using an ABB robot’s arm along with “normal” 3D printing technique. The 3D printer is fixed on a mechanical structure and all the movements required to perform 3D printing is done by the robotic arm. This is the first time someone is trying this in this fashion and I’m able to 3D print objects with this module.”

About Fahad

Fahad Ahmad Khan is a master student at the program Production Engineering and Management at the Department of production engineering.


What are the advantages (what problems does it solve)?

“This module, with a fixed extruder and a moving robotic arm, is very efficient in a production line. It will produce parts in one single go even when containing different materials. For example, if a part requires both subtractive manufacturing and additive manufacturing, this module will provide extremely adequate 3D printing services.

Moreover, the only limitation it has regarding the build size is the work envelope of the robotic arm. Another use of this application is for the repairs of damaged parts, since the robotic arm have access to difficult points unreachable with a normal 3D printer.”

Where do you see this application being used?

”I see this concept will be utilized in the manufacturing industries producing various kinds of parts in the future. Moreover, the critical legacy parts that gets damaged, this system can repair to an extent where they can be used again.”

What has been the biggest challenge?

“Most difficult was to get the robotic arm communicate with the 3D printing module in a synchronized way, since they ”speak” different languages (the robotic arm operates on the RAPID language whereas the 3D printing system operates on G codes). I am happy to tell that I have achieved this milestone.”

Text: Anna Gullers