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US6986654: Apparatus, systems and methods for use in three-dimensional printing

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Filing Information

Inventor(s) Ireneusz J. Imiolek · Christopher M. Gaylo ·
Assignee(s) Therics, Inc. ·
Attorney/Agent(s) Hunton & Williams LLP ·
Primary Examiner Robert B. Davis ·
Application Number US10189797
Filing date 07/03/2002
Issue date 01/17/2006
Prior Publication Data
Predicted expiration date 08/05/2023
Patent term adjustment 398
U.S. Classifications 425/182  · 425/258  · 425/218  · 425/447  · 425/215  ·
International Classifications B29C4102  · B29C4134  ·
Kind CodeB2
35 Claims, 42 Drawings


Abstract

Apparatus, systems and methods for use in three-dimensional printing are shown and described. Various embodiments of the invention allow for more precise and controlled delivery of heat to achieve interlayer drying; isolation of the working region from the outside for reasons of cleanliness and in connection with the vapors of organic solvents; better control of the temperature of the working region; better accuracy in the flowrates of binder fluid dispensed; matching of delivered flowrates for multiple dispensers; verification of delivered flowrate or drops; provision for easier changeover of the machine from one powder to another; cleanability; and other needs.

Independent Claims | See all claims (35)

  1. 1. A powder bed assembly for a three-dimensional printing machine, the three-dimensional printing machine having a guide, the powder bed assembly comprising: a perimeter wall engaged with the guide, the perimeter wall being movable with respect to the guide between an operable position in which the perimeter wall is oriented for use, and an inoperable position in which the perimeter wall is spaced apart from the operable position to facilitate loading powder into the perimeter wall or removing powder out of the perimeter wall; a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to an interior of the perimeter wall, the carrier plate being slidably received within the perimeter wall to raise or lower a quantity of powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine; and siderails separated from the perimeter wall by gaps or channels, the gaps or channels being configured to allow powder to drop into them.
  2. 8. A powder bed assembly for a three-dimensional printing machine, the three-dimensional printing machine having a guide, the powder bed assembly comprising: a perimeter wall engageted with the guide, the perimeter wall being movable with respect to the guide between an operable position in which the perimeter wall is oriented for use, and an inoperable position in which the perimeter wall is spaced apart from the operable position to facilitate loading powder into the perimeter wall or removing powder out of the perimeter wall; a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to an interior of the perimeter wall, the carrier plate being slidably received within the perimeter wall to raise or lower a quantity of powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine; and a sensor configured to register when the perimeter wall is in the operable position.
  3. 12. A powder bed assembly and positioning system for a three-dimensional printing machine comprising: a powder bed assembly comprising a perimeter wall; at least one siderail separated from the perimeter wall by at least one of a gap and a channel; a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to an interior of the perimeter wall, the carrier plate having a top surface configured to support a quantity of powder, the carrier plate being slidably received within the perimeter wall to raise or lower the quantity of powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine; and a vertical position controller releasably coupled to the carrier plate, the vertical position controller being operable to raise the carrier plate within the perimeter wall to present powder during operation, and being releasable from the carrier plate to allow the powder bed assembly to be removed from the three-dimensional printing machine.
  4. 14. A powder bed assembly and positioning system for a three-dimensional printing machine comprising: a powder bed assembly comprising a perimeter wall; a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to an interior of the perimeter wall, the carrier plate having a top surface configured to support a quantity of powder, the carrier plate being slidably received within the perimeter wall to raise or lower the quantity of powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine; and a vertical position controller releasably coupled to the carrier plate, the vertical position controller being operable to raise the carrier plate within the perimeter wall to present powder during operation, and being releasable from the carrier plate to allow the powder bed assembly to be removed from the three-dimensional printing machine; wherein the vertical position controller further comprises a vacuum coupling releasably coupled to a bottom surface of the carrier plate, and a vacuum sensor to register a magnitude of the vacuum between the vacuum coupling and the bottom surface of the carrier plate.
  5. 17. A three-dimensional printing machine comprising: a guide fixed with respect to the three-dimensional printing machine; a powder bed assembly engaged with the guide, the powder bed assembly being movable with respect to the guide between an operable position in which the powder bed is oriented for use, and an inoperable position in which the powder bed is out of the operable position to facilitate loading powder into the powder bed or unloading powder from the bed; a retaining member removably coupleable to the powder bed and the guide when the powder bed is in the operable position, such that the powder bed can be prevented from being inadvertently moved out of the operable position; and at least one of a sensor and an alarm, wherein the at least one of a sensor and an alarm is responsive to the position of the retaining member.
  6. 18. A powder bed assembly for a three-dimensional printing machine, the three-dimensional printing machine having a global guide, the powder bed assembly comprising: a receiving structure engaged with the global guide, the receiving structure being movable with respect to the global guide between an operable position in which the receiving structure is oriented for use, and an inoperable position in which the receiving structure is spaced apart from the operable position, the receiving structure comprising a local guide; and a tray subassembly comprising: a tray subassembly perimeter wall engaged with the local guide, the tray subassembly perimeter wall being movable with respect to the local guide between an operable position in which the tray subassembly is oriented for use, and an inoperable position in which the tray subassembly is spaced apart from the operable position to facilitate loading powder into the tray subassembly or removing powder from the tray subassembly; and a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to the tray subassembly perimeter wall, and configured to support a powder, the carrier plate being slidably received within the tray subassembly perimeter wall to raise and lower the powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine.
  7. 27. A powder bed assembly and positioning system for a three-dimensional printing machine having a printhead configured to sequentially deposit fluid onto a plurality of layers of powder, the build bed comprising: a tray subassembly perimeter wall or powder bed assembly perimeter wall having a top edge at least substantially coplanar with a working surface; a carrier plate sized and shaped to closely conform to the tray subassembly perimeter wall, and configured to support the plurality of layers of powder, the carrier plate being slidably received within the tray subassembly perimeter wall to raise and lower the plurality of layers of powder during operation of the three-dimensional printing machine; and a vertical position controller releasably coupled to the carrier plate, the vertical position controller being operable to sequentially lower the carrier plate within the tray subassembly perimeter wall to create room in which each layer of powder can be presented, and being releasable from the carrier plate to allow the tray subassembly perimeter wall and carrier plate to be removed from the powder bed assembly.

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Patent Family

Document NumberAssigneeInventorsIssue/Pub Date
US20040003738 Therics, Inc. Christopher Gaylo et al. Jan 2004
US6986654 Therics, Inc. Ireneusz J. Imiolek et al. Jan 2006