Tensioning 3D Prints For Lightweight, Strong Parts
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Tensioning 3D Prints For Lightweight, Strong Parts

Jul 07, 2023

Desktop 3D printers have come a long way over the past decade. They’re now affordable for almost anyone, capable of printing in many diverse materials, and offer a level of rapid prototyping and development not feasible with other methods. That said, the fact that they are largely limited to printing different formulations of plastic means there are inherent physical limitations to what the machines are capable of, largely because they print almost exclusively in plastic. But augmenting prints with other building techniques, like this method for adding tensioning systems to 3D printed trusses can save weight and make otherwise unremarkable prints incredibly strong.

The build from [Jón Schone] of Proper Printing consists of printed modular sections of truss which can be connected together to make structural components of arbitrary length. To add strength to them without weight, a series of Kevlar threads are strung from one end of the truss to the other on the interior, and then tensioned by twisting the threads at one end. Similar to building with prestressed concrete, this method allows for stronger parts, longer spans, less building material, and lighter weight components. The latter of which is especially important here, because this method is planned for use to eventually build a 3D printer where the components need to be light and strong. In this build it’s being used to make a desk lamp with a hinged joint.

For other innovative 3D printer builds, [Jón] has plenty of interesting designs ranging from this dual extrusion system to this 3D printed wheel for a full-size passenger vehicle. There’s all kinds of interesting stuff going on at that channel and we’ll be on the edge of our seats waiting to see the 3D printer he builds using this tensioned truss system.