University of Michigan develops technology that doubles the speed of 3D printing

ANN ARBOR – New software invented at the University of Michigan that speeds up 3D printing has hit the market.

Developed by spin-off company Ulendo, the product was recently launched at RAPID+TCT, North America’s largest additive manufacturing conference.

3D printing has long been limited by its slow process, and Chinedum Okwudire, associate professor of mechanical engineering at UM and founder of Ulendo, said his software is changing the landscape of 3D printing.

“If you want to reduce vibration from a moving object, most of the time you can do that by slowing down,” Okwudire said in a statement. “But since 3D printing is already very slow, this solution creates another problem. Our solution allows you to print quickly without sacrificing quality.

He added that the faster speed would not necessarily mean more power consumption, which would allow for a potential reduction in cost per printed part.

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The software developed by Ulendo is called FBS, short for Filtered B Splines – a mathematical function used by the UM team to translate printer commands and vibrations.

“Suppose you want a 3D printer to move in a straight line, but due to vibrations the motion is moving upwards,” Okwudire said in a statement. “The FBS algorithm tricks the machine into telling it to follow a downward path, and when it tries to follow that path, it moves straight.”

Okwudire began designing software in 2011 that could neutralize machine vibrations. In 2017, a graduate student from Okwudire’s mechanical engineering lab implemented FBS on a 3D printer.

Ulendo was created through UM’s Innovation Partnerships, and the university has a financial stake in the company.

It was started with a Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Science Foundation and an MTRAC grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

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“Members of the 3D printing industry have the same jaw-dropping reaction I had when I first heard about how this technology makes a printer work twice speed and 10x acceleration,” Brenda Jones, CEO of Ulendo, said in a statement.

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