3D printing is on the rise but has its limitations when executed on three-axis printers. With the 5-Axis slicer software for multi-axis printers from DotX Control Solutions, curved layers are made possible. The Dutch scale-up and EIT Manufacturing signed a support agreement and collaborate.
“The issue with three-axis printers is that that models have to be printed in flat, horizontal layers. Most of the existing slicers accommodate those printers. As a result, you are facing trouble. For instance, if the overhang angle exceeds its limit, supports will have to be printed, that you have to remove later on. This is a major problem in metal printing, for example” explains Jan Schuurmans, Director at DotX Control Solutions. “Our 5-Axis Slicer software can actually generate toolpaths for 3D printers that have five or more axis, allowing to print virtually any model without overhang. This unlocks exciting possibilities.”
Left image: The damaged dye has been repaired using the 5-Axis Slicer. Right image: The dye is ready to be used again after finishing.
The 5-Axis Slicer software enables printing of complex shapes without any support structures. Also printing on top of other objects is an option. “You can basically print anything with our 5-Axis Slicer” affirms Jan Schuurmans. “What this means for industrial customers is yet to be seen, but so far, we have seen most interest from metal 3D printing. One of the applications is metal dye repair. The damaged dye is scanned first, and converted into what we call a base model. Then, the operator draws the print model in CAD. Both models, base and print model, are imported in our 5-Axis Slicer which then calculates the toolpath for the welding torch.”
The DotX Control Solutions team, Jan Schuurmans, Jelle Kalsbeek and Pieter van Klaveren, all have a background in control systems from TU Delft. “For our customers, we analyse where problems or challenges lie. We usually model the process or product first and can then find out how to set up the control system algorithms,” says Jan Schuurmans. “We then convert our algorithms into software.”
The wind turbine controller is another of their developments: control software that contain many algorithms to reduce manufacturing costs and maximise electricity production. This software is applied to wind turbines all over the world.
“There are many good reasons to take DotX Control Solutions into our start-up portfolio”, said Wolfgang Kniejski, Senior Business Creation Manager of EIT Manufacturing. “The company is printing in directions where most strength is needed to create objects that are stronger and lighter than existing production methods. In addition, they are able to adjust the slicer to customer needs. This customer orientation will let them scale their business.”
EIT Manufacturing will support DotX Control Solutions to access markets in manufacturing and financial means to move the company forward.