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Block Breaker: A Community-Driven Material Testing Project for 3D Printing

Company: Eduard Kieser

Primary: ME
Secondary: CMPEN
Optional: EE, IE, MATSE

Non-Disclosure Agreement: NO

Intellectual Property: NO

3D printing is changing the way that companies approach prototyping. Choosing the right material and print settings is getting harder and harder, and there is very little consensus on basic topics, like "what is the toughest FDM material?" Ask YouTube, makers, or industrial printing services, and you will hear everything from ABS to PA-CF to PLA. Part of the reason is that the ever-growing list of available materials, brands, colors, and the large array of slicer options causes the solution space to become complex. Channels like CNC Kitchen have made good attempts to set up a standard testing methodology and to test different material and settings combinations. However, any system that relies on one person or group to find optimum values in this multidimensional solution space is doomed to fall short. Manufacturers cannot be trusted to do this accurately because of their incentives to overstate performance. The Block Breaker project aims to enable a distributed approach to tackling this problem. If we are able to design a material tester that is simple and inexpensive enough to be accessible to most makers and put the designs online, we may be able to create a system that can pool the collective knowledge and experience of the entire 3D printing community to find good material and settings combinations. A system that can enable this will have the following characteristics: Cost less than $200 Be simple to build and set up, including software setup and operation Be able to quantify tensile strength, impact strength, and creep. These tests do not need to be ISO-compliant, but we need to be able to guarantee consistency between devices so that comparisons between different rigs can be valid Capture environmental conditions at which the test was executed. Material properties of thermoplastics vary significantly with temperature, so capturing this accurately is essential to contextualize the data This should all be possible with a system with one actuator and a fast-responding load cell. Instead of using a swinging hammer, one could integrate the force over the distance to find the impact energy, with the same setup that is used to find maximum tensile strength Data integrity and annotation are key aspects: The purpose of this system is to collect large amounts of data to find good combinations of material and print settings. It is therefore essential that annotating and uploading this data is easy to do Examples of metadata that we would be interested in include: Material type, brand, and color, ideally with a product link; print settings like layer height, print speed, print temperature, and many more; print orientation; image of printed specimen or of the test part printed with the same material and settings; material pre-treatment details, such as whether the filament was dry and how long and at what temperature it was dried; and information about the printer used The cloud component (possibly a second project?) is also essential: The purpose of Block Breaker is to collect data to make the discussion around printing materials more data-centered An important component of this is how the data is aggregated and presented. The webpage will be somewhere between a large online dataset and a wiki All results will not line up, and some users might get different results, so it’s crucial to preserve the provenance of every piece of data so that our citizen scientists may replicate or refute the experimental results of their peers Claims of very strong materials will need to be verified since all filament providers will have a strong incentive to be on top of this list Each piece of data will need to be linked to a specific user's account to make it easier to weed out deliberate misinformation The ideal workflow will be: Setup & Annotate, Test, Upload Data presentations should also be carefully considered, but if done correctly, this project will make many people in the 3D printing community very happy.



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