Video: Escher in Action

“Project Escher” delivers functionality for coordinating multiple print heads to speed the building of big parts. Sections of the part mesh into a continuous form while the heads move in harmony.

Two heads are better than one?

One of the impediments frequently cited with 3D printing is the slow rate of building a form. Particularly for a large part, a single head moving back and forth extruding a small bead of material can result in a build time lasting dozens of hours or a span of days. A promising answer is therefore to use multiple heads at once. But how can the motion of these various heads effectively produce a single large part?

Addressing that concern was an aim of Autodesk's “Project Escher,” an undertaking that has produced control capability now embedded into Netfabb software. With this technology, the software can define a 3D-printed part in terms of integrated and overlapping sections produced by different heads, while coordinating the motion of those heads so that they produce this shared form in tandem without ever colliding or interfering with one another’s work. In addition to the file prep software, this technology also involves open-source software for the controller of the multi-head printer.

The quick video above illustrates the Project Escher capability in action through a demo that builds a part in different colors for the different heads to reveal how the sections of the shared part integrate and overlap. The demo seen here, using a Kloner3D two-head machine, was running at the most recent Autodesk U.

For more on Project Escher and the testbed with five independent heads used to evaluate it, see this video from Autodesk: