At a recent event at the MakerBot headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, the company demonstrated its new infill advancement, MinFill. For clarity’s sake, “infill” refers to support material within the core of an object that adds stability and density, and most geometries require some degree of infill to print successfully.
So, how does the process work? Well, when a file is being prepared for delivery to a 3D printer, the slicer—rendering software, in essence—breaks the object down, layer by layer, into a compatible programming language: G-code, which consists of instructions for the device such as layer-by-layer movement in the X/Y/Z axes, travel speed, material flow rate, and extruder temperature settings. Users can also instruct the slicer to place infill within the given object to ensure a successful print, typically represented as a percentage of the object’s internal volume.
MinFill—short for minimum infill—takes the process to a whole new level, thanks to a MakerBot-proprietary algorithm. Instead of filling an object uniformly with a set percentage of patterned infill, MinFill determines exactly where the object requires internal support and uses the least amount of material necessary for the object to print successfully.
Based on the company’s internal tests, final MinFill products are output 30% faster than those employing standard 10% patterned infill, and of course there’s also less material used. During the event, we were able to see firsthand the difference between MinFill and standard infill objects. A set of tower speakers, according to MakerBot, took 81 hours to produce with typical infill versus only 36 hours with MinFill, which also resulted in 580 grams (1.28 lbs.) of material savings. This last point obviously has positive cost ramifications for businesses, too.
One thing that makes the MinFill print mode interesting is that the enhancement is at the software level, with no need to change anything on the hardware side. MakerBot products that support this free upgrade to MakerBot Print include the Replicator+, Replicator (5th Generation) and Replicator Z18.
“We’re proud to offer MinFill to our users as a general time- and cost-saving feature, but are especially excited to see how it enhances their concept modeling and rapid prototyping efforts,” said Josh Snider, Public Relations Manager for MakerBot.
|3D objects are output using infill (top), but MakerBot’s new MinFill print mode allows things to be printed in less time while using fewer supplies.|
We’ll have a booth at RAPID + TCT in May, so if you’ll be in attendance, please stop by and say hello!