Ever since 3D Printing technology was introduced, it’s been nonstop periodic improvements. Everything from desk knick knacks to robotic limbs have been made with the technology. While various companies are finding new ways to make 3D printing better there are still limitations. Highly detailed items take long periods of time while small items can be created quickly but lack definition. This becomes an even bigger problem when trying to create large scale parts. Autodesk, the makers of open source Ember3D printer, think they have a new solution that’s supposed to revolutionize the technology with Project Escher.
In a nutshell, Project Escher is an assembly line of 3D printers governed by a smart setup that can control an endless number of printheads to create larger projects. It aims to be a faster way to manufacture complex parts by coordinating independent printers to create one large build volume. It works by giving different bots different print jobs. They then work collaboratively on different areas of the same part. In other words, instead of having printer working on one large object, several will work on different parts of the large object to complete it quicker.
“By intelligently distributing toolpaths between multiple collaborating machines, systems enabled by Project Escher can manufacture parts faster than traditional 3D printers,” its developers say of their experiment. “Project Escher is a parallel processing system where numerous independent tools collaborate to fabricate a design. It’s faster because whatever the job is, there are more workers on that job. And there is no compromise to detail because we’re using proven existing technology.”
The independent robots have interchangeable tool heads that the company is hoping to make automatic, which can be found on many CNC machines. They are also hoping to work on Pick-And-Place tools would place pre-made components into an object during mid-print. The project is currently in the development phase, but so far the results have been promising. In a companion video, the assembly is shown effectively producing large print jobs with precision, efficiency, and speed. Autodesk also thinks Project Escher can be incorporated with different technologies, like laser cutting.
Project Escher is adaptable and seems very accessible. It looks ideal for those who need to print large projects with speed and efficiency. While a release date isn’t set in stone, the developers are looking at 2017 or 2018 as the release date for a commercial version of the platform. Does this mean that mass production 3D printing will be the next big thing? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, see more about Project Escher.