As with any other type of machine that involves moving parts, 3D printers deal with vibration. But users often don’t recognize how much of an impact vibration has on their machines. “When you ask people, ‘Does your machine vibrate?’ they’ll say no,” says University of Michigan mechanical engineering professor Chinedum Okwudire. This is because machine vibration has an easy solution. “You just slow down and you don’t see vibration anymore,” he explains. “That’s why it’s actually a hidden problem.”
This means machines aren’t reaching their full potential. “People have not tried to push their machines to the limit,” he notes. “They just take the default parameters and say, ‘That’s the speed I’m supposed to use.’” OEMs can make other adjustments to their machines to counteract the effects of vibration and enable increased speed. Damping can help reduce vibration, but it adds mass, requiring more energy to run the machine and increasing wear and tear. Machines can also be made of stiffer materials, but OEMs have reached the limits of what they can do to design their machines to deal with vibration.
Okwudire studied the effects of vibration in machine tools while earning his PhD, and encountered the issue again when working for machine tool builder DMG MORI. “That's where the idea came to consider using software to compensate for vibration so that we can speed up the machines without sacrificing the quality of the parts that we're making,” he says.
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