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The Mitacs Accelerate program: An Exciting Collaboration Between Mech Solutions and UofT

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Every year, the Mitacs Accelerate program offers unique partnership opportunities that connect innovative companies with local universities. Through this partnership, firms connect with the university professors to develop a joint project proposal to Mitacs for funding. Once the funding is approved, companies work with Master’s and Ph.D. students in related fields to get support on their project deliverables over a four- to six-month period.

Mech Solutions Ltd is proud to announce that this year, they will be partnering with the University of Toronto through the Mitacs Accelerate program! Through the program, Mech Solutions will provide a unique internship opportunity to our selected students to do research and develop a plan to develop a 3D printing monitoring system using Artificial Intelligence.

The Research Objectives

Through collaboration with the University of Toronto, Mech Solutions aims to explore deep learning (DL) system to identify and detect the various printing defect types during the additive manufacturing (AM) process. By identifying these defects, Mech Solutions aims to improve efficiencies of the fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers by increasing their throughput and generating less printing waste.

Our interns at Mech Solutions are set to work in the following workflow structure to identify and resolve the FDM issues based on the DL algorithm:

Research Objective - Cloud 3D Print

The Current Problem with the FDM printer

The FDM printers, that use AM technology, are rapidly growing in the manufacturing industry. They are also becoming more popular among enthusiasts for home-use 3D printers. Despite the printers’ large expansion across industries, the machines are experiencing a variety of mechanical issues including low product quality, low accuracy in controllability and printing defects. These issues are causing major inefficiencies across businesses and are also hindering the expansion of FDM and AM technologies in the manufacturing sectors.

The Printing defects

There are multiple printing defects when the FDM machine encounters printing issues. The most common five failure types are spaghetti, under extrusion, over extrusion, crack, and wrap, as shown below.

The five common types of 3D printing defects:

3D Printing Defects

(a) spaghetti, (b) under extrusion, (c) over extrusion, (d) crack, (e) wrap

The solution to the Printing defects

To increase the productivity of FDM printers, researchers and engineers at Mech Solutions are eager to optimize the printing machines to improve the overall quality to an acceptable degree for fabricating products. To do so, the current research plan aims to develop a model to improve the AI accelerators in our commercial cloud service that transfers the in-situ images over the Internet. This will allow the DL program to quickly identify the printing defect types automatically in real-time and alert the operators These new features can significantly improve the efficiencies of the printers and thus bring positive economic benefits to the customers and the business.

The Mitacs Accelerate program: Benefits to the Intern

This program provides a great opportunity for the interns to apply their relevant theories and knowledge to solve practical problems in the industrial field. By doing this, the intern can obtain the latest industry knowledge from the engineers at Mech Solutions and enrich their work experience. Most importantly, through their work experience, the intern can gain valuable life skills such as leadership, time management and communication that will help them in their future career endeavours.

Relevance of the proposal

This proposed monitoring system will generate positive influences for society and the environment. The outcome of this system will accelerate the development of 3D printing and brings the true revolution for manufacturing. Worker safety will be enhanced by significantly reducing the possibility of being scalded. In addition, since the research plan aims to improve the 3D printing process by generating fewer defects and waste, it will also yield major environmental benefits.

Finally, the research project will also help to adopt this modern manufacturing technique into the Canadian industries and make Canada the leading contributor in the world of 3D printing.

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