Integrating 3D printing extrusion with Kuka robotic arm movement

Hi everyone,

I'm currently looking to add a hot-end and an extruder to the end of a Kuka robotic arm. I have a general idea of the hardware required to operate the 3D printer add on, but I was wondering if it was at all possible to integrate the extrusion of the printing process and the movement of the Kuka robotic arm from one source? I have researched other projects which have used this similar setup, but they seem to control the extrusion process and the movement of the Kuka robot separately.

Just a little more about the project:

I am currently exploring the effects of temperature change on the aesthetic of a wood-plastic composite product that is produced from WPC filament, and want to explore the feasibility of achieving this in 3D. Essentially I’m creating a wood grain aesthetic that alternates between light and dark regions on the surface of the product. In the past, I have written G-code which allowed me to create this similar aesthetic but only on a horizontal plane with traditional 3D desktop printers. I was hoping to extend this so that it works in 3D as well, using the Kuka robot arm.

The challenge for me is that I want to change the temperature of the nozzle multiple times during the print, and I need to have some feedback system where the robotic movements and extrusion will only resume after the hot-end has reached a particular temperature. On the desktop 3D printers, I would have simply placed that as an instruction in the G-code, and this would be done automatically, but I’m not sure if I can do the same thing with the robot. Is it possible to have one G-code or instruction file that coordinates the robotic movement, extrusion rate and the temperature control? Is there a possibility to get the technologies in the Kuka robot with the setup for the 3D printing to “talk” to each other in cases where feedback is required between the 3D printing and the robot movement?

Also as an aside, I was wondering if anyone knows if the Kuka robot transforms to either a 12V or 24V to power the hot end or other electronic add ons.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

When one task tends to consume lengthy time intervals, the other one tends to fail. Splitting and distributing a project onto multiple controllers is safe, even if not required. If you feed the extruder using PWM, it’s running independently from any other activities.

I've just updated my post with more information. While I understand the advantages of splitting a project, I feel that this project needs a centralised control in order to work effectively.

Please don't make major changes to an earlier Post - just add the extra info in a new Reply so that reading the Thread from top to bottom makes sense.

On the desktop 3D printers, I would have simply placed that as an instruction in the G-code, and this would be done automatically, but I'm not sure if I can do the same thing with the robot. Is it possible to have one G-code or instruction file that coordinates the robotic movement, extrusion rate and the temperature control?

I presume you can program a robot to do anything you want. But if you are asking a question specifically about the software that drives a Kuka robot you need to address your question to someone who knows that software.

I have no idea what a Kuka robot is, and I suspect I am not alone in that.

...R

Robin2:
Please don’t make major changes to an earlier Post - just add the extra info in a new Reply so that reading the Thread from top to bottom makes sense.

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind for next time. I was just hoping to put more context for my question, I still left the original part of the post there.

Here’s a link where plastic extrusion with a Kuka robot is being used:

Here’s a layout of setup from the designer that combines the Arduino hardware/software to control the extrusion and temperature of the hot-end.

Note that the control of the robot movement is conducted separately and independently of the extrusion process. In the standard desktop printer, there would be a feedback system and an overarching interface that controls all the movement, temperature and extrusion control.

My actual question is, is it possible to have a single interface where I can control the movement of the robot and the Arduino controlled extrusion + temperature of the 3D printer add-on?

Monkay:
Note that the control of the robot movement is conducted separately and independently of the extrusion process. In the standard desktop printer, there would be a feedback system and an overarching interface that controls all the movement, temperature and extrusion control.

I don't feel competent to give specific advice about this project but IMHO it will be absolutely essential to achieve the same overarching control with the robot as you have with a 3D printer.

Maybe a solution could be based on using a "second" Arduino to control both the Arduino doing the extrusion and the robot. It could take data from the extrusion controller and use that to decide when to move the robot.

I put the word "second" in quotes because it may be possible that the extrusion Arduino could do both roles.

...R