P14551: Multi-Process 3D Printing


Project Summary Project Information

Start of Project

At the start of this project, the team was given a Project Readiness Package which defined the desired scope and general outcomes of the project.


Due to recent leaps open source technology, 3-D printing is set to take off in the coming years. Current open source machines can perform a single process, (e.g. laser sintering, thermoplastic extrusion, CNC routing) leading to hobbyists needing to buy and maintain multiple machines in order to prototype complex parts. Multi-process 3-D printers are capable of performing these processes, minimizing capital and maintenance expenses, while simultaneously unlocking the ability to produce multiple substrate parts such a printed circuit boards or other composite materials. Current multi-process printers are not open source and have costs well above what the average hobbyist can afford.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate a multi-process 3-D printer that is both designed as open source and available at an appropriate price range to be marketed to the average hobbyist. This printer will incorporate an interface capable of supporting multiple process heads, which could additive or subtractive in nature, that will operate with minimum setup or training. (i.e. Plug-and-Play) Open sourced or low cost software will be used to control the printer. This project will create a platform that can be expanded upon by future MSD teams.

Definition of Scope

At the start of this project, the team sought to determine an exact list of customer needs and engineering requirements in order to generate a precise scope for the project. In addition to defining these system requirements, the team also carried out benchmarking to identify existing solutions. The resulting planning and benchmarking information can be found on the Problem Definition page.

Design Brainstorming

Having determined the scope of the project and identified the desired outcomes from the customer and the corresponding system requirements, the team sought to brainstorm design possibilities at the system and sub-system level. The result of these efforts can be found in the Systems Design and Sub-Systems Design pages. From these efforts, the team decided upon a system utilizing a moving X-Y gantry with a mounted Z axis system common to CNC mills, with lead-screws driving each axis of motion. A large area of motion was designed to increase the ease of implementation of a storage rack system to the side of the machine. In the scope of this project, a basic stationary bed was implemented, with a large amount of open space for ready expansion of the system in the future.

Detailed Design

After generating the general concept-level design of the system, the team then sought to create detailed models of each system element. This process also included analysis of system elements for form and functionality, including verification of motion characteristics (accuracy, speed, and torque requirements) and deformation analysis. Information pertaining to the detailed design can be found at the Detailed Design page.

Component Purchasing

This phase of the project marked the transition from MSD I to MSD II. The first set of components, including stepper motors and the rotary solenoid used in the Electro-Mechanical Head Interface were ordered at the end of MSD I, as these items were determined to have a long lead time. All other components were ordered at the start of MSD II. The team encountered some difficulties in the parts acquisition phase due to a combination of availability and ordering procedure. A few of these issues are as follows:

  • Most of the system was designed with metric components. However, it was found that many of these components (particularly plate metal) could be purchased at a much lower cost in English units. As a result, system components had to be quickly redesigned.
  • The team sought to minimize costs by sourcing components from many distributors based on lowest available price. This resulted in more work for the Industrial and Systems Engineering office however, as some of these distributors were not already in the purchasing system. Consequently, the team had to condense orders into a reduced list.
  • At the time that parts ordering was being conducted, the ISE office was experiencing a substantial amount of activity due to factors external to the MSD team. This caused additional delay in parts ordering that was not anticipated in the project planning.

As a result of these unanticipated delays, the team fell slightly behind the project plan at this point in the project.

Component Manufacturing

As ordered parts began to arrive, the team spent a substantial amount of time in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop manufacturing components. This time was split between machining needed components and modifying ordered components (generally due to errors in ordering the correct parts). The team was able to recover some time on the project by utilizing the advanced manufacturing capabilities of the Brinkman Machine Laboratory. For example, most of the aluminium plate components could be cut using the available water jet system, which was substantially more efficient than cutting these components by hand.

System Construction

Concurrent with arriving parts and the completion of some of the component manufacturing system, the team was able to begin assembling parts of the system to carry out basic testing and validation. It was during this phase of the project that the team discovered a number of minor design errors that had to be corrected. Many of these errors were caused by initial design errors, or errors in redesign brought about by alternate material sourcing.

Testing and System Validation

As the primary scope of this project was the construction of a system framework, substantial testing was not carried out on the final state of the system. Most testing that was conducted was related to validation of the motion system's functionality and the fit of the interface elements. At the conclusion of MSDII, the team has constructed all system elements and validated that motion is possible along each axis. However, the speed of motion was substantially less than the specified quantity, possibly due to unanticipated constraints on the stepper motors ordered. The team began communication with the manufacturer of these motors to resolve these issues, but was unable to resolve them by the end of the term.

Project Name
Multi-Process 3D Printing
Project Number
Project Family
Printing and Imaging Systems
Start Term.....End Term
Project Guide
Mr. John Kaemmerlen
Phone: (585) 475-2767
Email: jxkpdm@rit.edu
Primary Customer
Dr. Denis Cormier
Phone: (585) 475-2713
Email: drceie@rit.edu
Faculty Champion/Sponsor (financial support)
Dr. Denis Cormier
Dr. Denis Cormier

Dr. Denis Cormier

Final State of System

CAD Physical Realization
CAD Model of Final System

CAD Model of Final System

Final state of physical system

Final state of physical system

Team Members

Team Members from Left: Jeremy Bennett, Austin Chacosky, Chad Rossi, Nicholas Hensel, and Matthew Demm

Team Members from Left: Jeremy Bennett, Austin Chacosky, Chad Rossi, Nicholas Hensel, and Matthew Demm

Member Role Contact
Jeremy Bennett Electrical Engineer jrb3817@rit.edu
Austin Chacosky Industrial Engineer atc7417@rit.edu
Matthew Demm Mechanical Engineer mld1374@rit.edu
Nicholas Hensel Mechanical/Electrical Engineer nch9456@rit.edu
Chad Rossi Industrial Engineer cjr9445@rit.edu

Table of Contents


Photo Gallery

Planning & Execution

Problem Definition

Customer Information

Systems Design

Sub - Systems Design

Detailed Design

Project Review

CAD Files & Detailed PDFs

Planning & Execution

Build, Test, Document

Assembly Instructions

Project Review


Technical Paper

Final Presentation