z-infinity 3D printing machines


The goal of this project is to develop a new type of 3D printing machine capable of producing vertical structures while simultaneously climbing the same structures they build. In principle this type of machines might be capable of printing without limit on the vertical axis becoming what can be called z-infinity 3D printing climbing machines.

We have already designed, fabricated and successfully tested two prototypes of z-infinity 3D printers. The first one called Koala z-infinity 3D printer is able to climb a vertical
30x30mm column by grasping it similarly as when a koala climb a tree, the printer continuously produces this column and can produce any shape inside.

Cell behaviors
              during morphogenesis Fabrication of soft modular robotic
Image of Koala z-infinity 3D printer mounted on a 30x30mm vertical column. The printer uses 1.7mm PLA  filament. 
Diagram displaying the main components of Koala z-infinity 3D printer. The printer comprises a x-y horizontal stage in charge of positioning the printing head. Two clamping carriages allow the printer to climb along the beam as well as to control the z vertical position of the printing head. A counterbalance weight is used to position the center of mass int the middle of the beam.

The second prototype is called Toala z-infinity 3D printer. This machine uses a simplified mechanism for achieving vertical propulsion. The idea is to exploit the capability of 3D printers to produce almost any shape and to discharge complexity of the 3D printer into the printing process itself. The printer produces an infinite vertical rack on the surface of the same column being printed and then it simply uses a motorized pinion to achieve vertical motion along the structure.

              reconfiguration of soft modular robots Toala 3D
              Printer Climber diagram
Toala z-infinity 3D printer. The produced rack is shown together with the motorized pinion engaged.
Detail  showing the rack produced on the surface of the part being fabricated.



The following people are currently involved in the project:

Maximiliano Velez (designer of Koala z-infinity 3D printer), 
Efren Toala (designer of Toala z-infinity 3D printer), 
Juan Cristobal Zagal (chief designer of both 3D printers).


jczagal at ing.uchile.cl