Scientists and engineers often manually use trial-and-error to find the optimum parameters to consistently 3D print new materials effectively.
But researchers have now streamlined the process by training a machine-learning model to monitor and adjust the 3D printing process to correct errors in real-time.
The system could help engineers easily incorporate novel materials into their prints and allow technicians to adjust the printing process if material or environmental conditions change unexpectedly.
Copyright: weforum.org – “How AI is being used to improve 3D printing”
Scientists and engineers are constantly developing new materials with unique properties that can be used for 3D printing, but figuring out how to print with these materials can be a complex, costly conundrum.
Often, an expert operator must use manual trial-and-error — possibly making thousands of prints — to determine ideal parameters that consistently print a new material effectively. These parameters include printing speed and how much material the printer deposits.
MIT researchers have now used artificial intelligence to streamline this procedure. They developed a machine-learning system that uses computer vision to watch the manufacturing process and then correct errors in how it handles the material in real-time.
They used simulations to teach a neural network how to adjust printing parameters to minimize error, and then applied that controller to a real 3D printer. Their system printed objects more accurately than all the other 3D printing controllers they compared it to.
The work avoids the prohibitively expensive process of printing thousands or millions of real objects to train the neural network. And it could enable engineers to more easily incorporate novel materials into their prints, which could help them develop objects with special electrical or chemical properties. It could also help technicians make adjustments to the printing process on-the-fly if material or environmental conditions change unexpectedly.
“This project is really the first demonstration of building a manufacturing system that uses machine learning to learn a complex control policy,” says senior author Wojciech Matusik, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT who leads the Computational Design and Fabrication Group (CDFG) within the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “If you have manufacturing machines that are more intelligent, they can adapt to the changing environment in the workplace in real-time, to improve the yields or the accuracy of the system. You can squeeze more out of the machine.”
The co-lead authors on the research are Mike Foshey, a mechanical engineer and project manager in the CDFG, and Michal Piovarci, a postdoc at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria. MIT co-authors include Jie Xu, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, and Timothy Erps, a former technical associate with the CDFG.
Determining the ideal parameters of a digital manufacturing process can be one of the most expensive parts of the process because so much trial-and-error is required.[…]
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