Operation and experimental evaluation of a 12-axis robot-based setup used for 3D-printing
This paper presents the operation and the experimental evaluation of a 12-axis, dual-robot-based setup, which can be used for 3D-printing of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts, while taking into account their optimal fiber orientation. 3D-printing shows a great potential among the current trends of industry, as it allows the manufacturing of parts with a high-degree of design flexibility and reasonable production costs. With the expansion of the 3D-printing industry, new materials, such as CFRP are considered to be applicable. However, the conventional 3D-printing processes with layer-by-layer material deposition are not always feasible, especially not in the case of creating parts with the optimal fiber orientation. In order to provide optimal orientation for fiber placement, while meeting the industry standards, a dual-robot-based setup was designed, which provides the necessary flexibility to create CFRP parts. In this article, the relevant state of the art is shown, then the setup is presented through its main mechanical components: the robots, the print head and the PLC-based control system. This is followed by the programming procedure of the setup to create 3D-printed parts. Subsequently, an experiment is proposed to determine the accuracy and the repeatability of the experimental setup and to compare the quality of 3D-printed test objects to parts printed with a conventional 3D-printer.