The goal of Team eNYy ME is to design a hybrid of 2D inkjet printing technology and 3D SLS printing to create a platform for Multi-Surface printing. Conventional inkjet printers are limited to only paper, while the Codename: Pixelator extends the range of printing to multiple flat surface types, which include but are not limited to wood, metals, glass, and plastics.
Team eNVy ME will be designing a printing device that has similar mechanical capabilities of a 3D printer, which include motion in the X, Y, & Z direction for color application. The aim is to print full color images onto multiple surface types using a method similar to screen printing with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black color separated layers. The print dimensions achievable will be able to achieve up to 24” x 36” painted output image. For multi-surface application, acrylic paint will be applied through computer numerical control onto these surfaces.
Proof of Concept
Team eNVy ME is in the process of developing a CNC, or computerized numerical control – based method for applying paint onto various types of surfaces. A proof-of-concept is necessary to demonstrate such an idea is both viable and achievable. Team eNVy ME intends to utilize a numerically controlled micro mill to demonstrate the controlled motion in the X, Y, and Z directions. A custom mounting mechanism will be attach a paint marker onto the moving head of the mill. A completed assembly is shown in the image on the left. A red paint marker is attached using custom fitted screws with wing nuts and painters tape. A simple test of drawing straight lines onto paper will be conducted to determine the controllability of the paint and image. This test will show how well paint can be applied and manipulated as well as aesthetics of the outcome. The outcome of this test will then allow the team to continue further in the testing process, inputting more complex shapes of varying sizes further determine the compatibility of using a paint marker. These shapes will run through the micro mill as machine G-Code so that positioning and depth can be coordinated. Upon successful application of paint to the initial surface of paper, different materials will be substituted in place of paper to determine the quality of the paint and image. Overall, this proof-of-concept will demonstrate the level of controllability as well as paint quality that can be achieved by using a CNC machine.
In order to guide the conception of the project Codename: Pixelator, product design specifications were made clear so that customer needs are fulfilled, and safety standards set in place by the engineering community are complied. The following are the product design specification of Codename: Pixelator.
Final product must have a print surface area which range from prints of 1” x 1” to 24” x 36”. Final product must cost less than $1000 to build. This includes motors, frame, and paint material consumables. Final product must be labelled with the team logo and team contact information for support. Motion in the X and Y coordinate direction must be accomplished using stepper motors, and they must be controlled by using Arduino microcontrollers and numerical control programming language: G Code. The device must contain warnings of hazards in appropriate locations, and it must safely enclose electrical equipment so that risk of injury is reduced. Pixelator must be an eco-friendly machine with the use of acrylic refillable paint markers. The pixel density of the printer must be based on the paint markers to be used, for this instance team eNVy ME will be using markers with a 2 mm tip allowing for a minimum individual pixel size of 2 mm.
It is clear for the team that there is no limit to technological advances. Customers are always on the wait for more innovative products. As a response, Codename: Pixelator promises to make the process of printing broader. This revolutionary printer will be capable of printing on many flat-solid surfaces. The basic design is similar to CNC-type mechanisms. The printer frame is designed to be open to allow for easy placement of the material. The innovative design of Pixelator includes automatized movement in three directions – X, Y, and Z – by the use of stepper motors and lead screw systems. The printer paint-head uses the mechanical system to manage the controllability of acrylic paint markers. The use of acrylic paint markers as the printer inkjet allows the user to print in either one or multiple colors. An image to G-code software converter is implemented making the use of Pixelator hassle free since user will only need to upload their files (jpeg, .dwg, or .dxf).
The purpose of this project is to bring a creative, cost-efficient, and innovative method of printing any image onto multiple flat surfaces. Conventional printers are restricted to printing mostly on papers and cardboard, which highly limits the user from being creative with the type of object or surface they have the capability of printing on. Codename: Pixelator allows easy application of acrylic paint onto surfaces which include, but not limited to, various metals, ceramics, woods, and many plastics. This allows the user to have some freedom as to the type of surface or object they intend to apply paint to. This product will be highly useful to any hobbyist because they will not be limited to the surface they print on.
After completion of the initial design, a large majority of parts were ordered from online vendors and local hardware stores. Figure 1 shows approximately everything purchased online and Figure 2 shows everything that was purchased at local hardware stores. Once the parts arrived, fabrication was immediately started. The frame was assembled from the 8020 extruded aluminum bars that were already cut to size and were secured using the brackets and various bolts seen in Figure 2. Next, the linear bearings were installed onto each of the axes. They were easily slid on because the bearings were made specifically for the extruded aluminum, so minimal machining was required. This also allowed for easy removal of the bearings if necessary. Next, the gantries for each of the axes were machined at the University machine shop using a manual mill out of aluminum stock. To manufacture this part both accurately and precisely, extreme care was taken to determine exactly where and what needed to be machined. This was a crucial part of making the product work smoothly, so it’s accuracy was of utmost importance. As the threaded rod purchased online was not pre-cut, it was also machined to the proper dimensions in the machine shop. Once the gantry and threaded rods were machined to size, they were both installed onto the frame. This was relatively easy to do because the modular design of the frame allowed for easy installation of the parts. The motors were then installed to each of the axes, one for x, y, and z, and connected to the G-shield and a power supply. Finally, the large piece of sheet metal seen in Figure 1 was attached to the bottom of the structure, acting as a secure base for the product. Some images taken during the building process are shown in Figures 3-5.
Figure 1: Majority of Parts Purchased Online.
Figure 2: Majority of Parts Purchased from Local Hardware Stores.
Figure 3: Team Members Andy, Arjun, and Karina working on setting up the base to be printed on.
Figure 4: Team Members Andy, Karina, and Nicole working on wiring up the motors.
Figure 5: Final Setup of the Prototype.
Testing and Results
For the testing of the prototype, a series of drawing test were performed. Pictures were selected and the coordinates for the images were produced then turned into G-Code. Upon completion of the conversion the coordinates were ran to evaluate the performance and accuracy of the image onto multiple surfaces which included glass, paper and metal. The z-axis deflection of the marker tip was first evaluated to ensure the proper amount of paint flow through the marker. Upon calibrating the z-axis deflection of the marker tip, the accuracy of the image duplication was assessed. The tolerances of the image and scaling applied was tested and then examined. The multi-surface printer was tested countless times with multiple markers and surfaces to determine product performance. Team eNVy ME did encounter failed tests, the first failed test occurred at the y-axis crossmember that only have drive power from a stepper motor and threaded rod on one side and when power was applied the linear bearings had too much friction to allow smooth motion. This issue was resolved by adding an additional stepper motor and threaded rod to the other side of the assembly and additional programming to the second stepper motor.
Figure 1 Pixelators solution to y-axis drag
The next issue arose with the programming of the G-Code, the cause of the problem lied with having uneven surfaces tested that caused additional deflection with the marker tip, causing unwanted results, this was corrected by providing the printer with a flat even surface and compensating the marker tip deflection within the coding.
Figure 2 Z-axis deflection of the market tip
After evaluation of the images selected to test, it was concluded that the printer successfully accomplished the task of printing an image onto multiple surfaces, proving team eNVy ME’s concept printer and solving the problem of having the capacity to automate the drawing process. Artist and hobbyist now have the ability of uploading a drawing or picture of interest and having the image drawn onto multiple surfaces at the click of a mouse, saving time and hand fatigue, especially when repetitiveness is a matter. Based off of market surveys and user responses, team eNVy ME feels that users enjoy the application and ease of use of the printer. Additionally, users enjoyed the aesthetics and how it fit its intended purpose for DIYers and hobbyist and had the ability to sit atop a table and be flexible in terms of printing areas.
Meet the Team
Nicole Jaen Ledezma
Nicole Jaen is a senior mechanical engineering student at University of Nevada, Reno. She was born and raised in La Chorrera, Panama. In fall of 2013, she got a full-scholarship from a mining and metals company, First Quantum Minerals, and moved to Reno to begin studying engineering at UNR. During college her highest concern was to keep high academic standards that placed her in the Engineering Dean’s List every semester. In the summer of 2016, she had the opportunity to get an internship in the construction of coal power plant in Panama where she worked with the engineering department. After graduation, she will begin her career as an engineer in Cobre Panama – First Quantum Minerals.
Arjun is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno, perusing an education in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Reno native who loves the outdoors and being active. Arjun has worked on many on-campus jobs related to information technology, so he has a lot of experience with the successes and pitfalls that technology presents. He is currently an undergraduate research assistant in a Tribology lab, which deals with the study of friction, wear, and lubrication. Upon graduation, he would either like to pursue a graduate education in Mechanical Engineering or enter the industry. He believes that his ability to learn quickly from observing something will serve him well in his professional career.
Nathan Pinuelas is a senior in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is a native Nevadan who was born and raised an hour away from the University. Nathan has had the opportunity to apply his skills in several areas of applied research within the academic and industrial setting through several internships. Nathan have designed and built several apparatuses and molds within proper budget constraints and requirements. His interest include solid mechanics and materials and he hopes to have a career within the mining industry upon graduation.
Karina is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting her degree in Mechanical Engineering. She is from Penonome, a small town in the Republic of Panama. Karina moved to Reno to learn English and to attend university. Spanish is her first language. During her school years she has kept high academic standards making herself part of the Engineering Dean’s List every semester. Karina had the opportunity to do two internships: one in Zambia, Africa, and the other one back in her home country, both in a mining company. After graduation Karina is planning to work for a multinational mining company’s subsidiary back in Panama.
Andy is a senior mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno. Andy was born in Managua, Nicaragua and was raised in Las Vegas Nevada. He first attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas studying fine arts. He later UNR and began studying engineering. Andy is part of UNR’s only professional engineering fraternity, giving him exposure to leadership positions. He began interning at LSP in Carson City where developed skills in engineering experimentation, product failure investigation & reporting, and solid modeling. Andy currently works with Lambertson industries designing stainless steel kitchen equipment fabrication, using SolidWorks. Upon graduation, Andy will pursue a career in design engineering. He believes that creativity and curiosity are the things that make engineering boundless!
Team Leader: Andy Narvaez-Nunez
Course Instructor: Nick Maus
Project Advisors: Dr. Logan Yliniemi, Olivia Tanguileg
Fabrication: Tony Berdendsen