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Title:
THREE DIMENSIONAL PRINTER APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/065375
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present application relates a three dimensional (3D) printer apparatus, to be installed in a crane-like structure, with the purpose of improving the stability and precision of an automated housing construction process. The apparatus is comprised by a slewing unit (1) attached to the top of the vertical mast (6) of a crane-like structure, a trolley (2) installed in the long horizontal jib (7) of said structure, and an embedded central control unit, which is configured to control the operation of both the trolley (2) and the slewing unit (1). The trolley (2) is comprised by an operation arm (3) that has attached on its lower end a printing nozzle (5). This arrangement allows the jib (7), carrying a counterweight (4), to move to an angular position relative to the mast (6) and to position the trolley's operation arm (3) and the respective printing nozzle (5) within the printing area.

Inventors:
TRAWI AYMAN (LB)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2018/057435
Publication Date:
April 02, 2020
Filing Date:
September 26, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TRAWI 3D CONSTRUCTIONS S A R L (LB)
MEDCOM FRANCE S R O (CZ)
International Classes:
E04G21/04; B28B1/00; B29C64/00; B33Y30/00; B66C9/00; B66C19/00; B66C23/18
Foreign References:
CN103790378B2017-06-23
CN107447985A2017-12-08
US20180056544A12018-03-01
US8029710B22011-10-04
US20070181519A12007-08-09
US20160361834A12016-12-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VIEIRA PEREIRA FERREIRA, Maria Silvina (PT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. 3D printer apparatus to be installed in a crane-like structure comprised by a vertical mast on the top of which extends a long horizontal jib and a shorter horizontal counter jib, connected to the rear, and carrying a counterweight, said printer apparatus characterized by comprising :

— A slewing unit, comprising a ring gear installed in the top of the vertical mast, where the horizontal jib is coupled, and a driving motor configured to actuate the rotation of said ring gear;

— A trolley comprising a coupling unit and a lifting unit; the coupling unit comprising coupling means adapted to provide the coupling of trolley' s body to the horizontal jib's structure and a driving motor configured to move the trolley longitudinally along said jib's structure; the lifting unit comprises an operation arm and a coupling unit, wherein the operation arm, having a printer head installed in its lower extremity, by means of coupling means, said operation arm being extended and retracted in the vertical direction along the trolley' s structure by means of a guiding rail installed therein and by means of a driving motor; and a coupling unit comprising coupling means adapted to provide the coupling between the operation arm and the trolley' s body and a driving motor configured to move the operation arm in a vertical direction;

— A central control unit comprising processor means configured to control the operation:

— of the driving unit of the slewing unit; — of the driving motor of the trolley's coupling unit ;

— of the driving motors of the operation arm and respective printing head;

2. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the coupling means of the trolley' s driving unit are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is connected to the trolley's body and the rack gear is welded along the horizontal jib's structure .

3. Apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the driving motor is engaged with the pinion gear with a worm gear mounted thereon, which is rotatable engaged with a spur gear.

4. Apparatus according to any of the previous claims, wherein the coupling means of the coupling unit of the trolley's lifting unit are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is installed in the trolley' s body, which engages on the rack gear mounted along the operation arm.

5. Apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the driving motor is engaged with the pinion gear by means of a worm gear, which in turn drives a spur gear that connects the rack gear mounted on the operation arm.

6. Apparatus according to any of the previous claims, wherein the operation arm has a structure that surrounds a compressed pipe through which concrete material has its way from the extruder to the printing head.

7 . Apparatus according to any of the previous claims, wherein the printing head is comprised by a printing unit and a sensor unit.

8. Apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the printing unit is comprised by at least one printing nozzle, said nozzle being mounted on a slewing unit which is connected to a driving motor, enabling the printing nozzle to rotate about a vertical axis of the operation arm.

9 . Apparatus according to claim 7 or 8, wherein a set of sensors is installed in the printing head, being configured to measure the distance to the ground of the printing head, and the concrete's flow that is expelled by the printing nozzles .

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 23 January 2020 (23.01.2020)

1. A crane like structure comprised by a vertical mast (6) on the top of which extends a long horizontal jib (7) and a shorter horizontal counter jib, connected to the rear, and carrying a counterweight (4), the crane like structure comprising a 3D printer apparatus, said printer apparatus comprising:

A slewing unit (1), comprising a

horizontal jib (7) and a ring gear installed in the top of the vertical mast (6), where said horizontal jib (7) is coupled, and

a driving motor configured to actuate the rotation of said ring gear, promoting control rotation of the horizontal jib (7) in relation to the vertical axis of the mast ( 6 ) ;

A trolley (2), comprising a coupling unit and a lifting unit ;

the coupling unit comprising

coupling means adapted to provide the coupling of trolley's body to the long horizontal jib's structure (7), and

a driving motor configured to move the trolley longitudinally along said jib's structure;

the lifting unit comprising

an operation arm (3) and a coupling unit,

where said operation arm (3) comprises a printing head installed in its lower extremity which rotates around its axis driven by means of a driving motor,

and a coupling unit comprising coupling means adapted to provide the coupling between the operation arm (3) and the trolley's body (2) and a driving motor configured to move the operation arm (3) in a vertical direction;

A central control unit comprising processor means configured to control the operation:

of the driving motor of the slewing unit (1) by means of polar and angular coordinate system;

of the driving motor of the trolley's (2) coupling unit ;

of the driving motor of the operation arm (3) through rack and pinion;

of the driving motor of the printing head, controlling the concrete flow expelled from the concrete nozzle, which is filled by an compressed pipe through an concrete extruder.

2. Crane like structure according to claim 1, wherein the coupling means of the trolley' s driving motor is made through a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is connected to the trolley's body (2), and the rack gear is welded along the thicker bridge horizontal jib's (7) structure.

3. Crane like structure according to claim 1, wherein the coupling means of the coupling unit of the trolley's lifting unit are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is installed in the trolley' s body, which engages on the rack gear mounted along the operation arm.

4. Crane like structure according to claim 1, wherein the printing head is comprised by at least one printing nozzle (5), said nozzle being mounted on a slewing unit which is connected to a driving motor of said slewing unit, enabling the printing nozzle to rotate around a vertical axis of the operation arm.

5. Crane like structure according to claim 4, wherein a set of sensors are installed in the printing head, configured to measure the distance of said head to the ground and measure the concrete's flow that is expelled by the printing nozzles.

6. Crane like structure according to claim 1, wherein the operation arm (3) structural arrangement is of a squared cross- section design.

7. Crane like structure according to claim 1 and 6, wherein the operation arm (3) combines several different set-ups to cope with different construction levels.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

"Three dimensional printer apparatus"

Technical field

The present application relates to a three dimensional printer apparatus .

Background art

Over the past few years it has become increasingly evident that three dimensional (3D) printing technologies will have a big impact not only on the aerospace, medical, and consumer industries, but could also be at the forefront of a revolution within the field of construction. A number of promising projects have come to life over the past few years, which have shown the promising potential of 3D printed construction: From fully constructed homes and pavilions, to architectural installations, to projects that are still being realized.

The idea of 3D printing is adopted by NASA, which is aiming at being able to build concrete structures using only machines without any labor' s involvement, hence planning to build houses and other structures on Mars in an attempt to make it a residential planet. In general in professional literature and in the internet is known such a solution of a resembling tower cranes - crane-like structures -, which perform the following movements: rotating the crane body around a vertical axis, vertical movement of boom and extension of boom. However, the drawback of the solutions like this is that is not suitable for constructing on large floor area because of the limitations of the boom length, and that the position of the head becomes uncertain when large boom extension is used because of the swing of the structure .

Besides that, nowadays, a considerable number of technologies have been developed in field of 3D printing that can be used for building structures automatically - avoiding direct human intervention - such as walls. Those state of the art solutions, such as US8029710 and US20070181519, are based on a crane structure that has a gantry arrangement, being the programed movement of the printing head realized by three components of the movement: two horizontal movements perpendicular to each other, and a vertical movement. Document CN109790378 also discloses a construction equipment comprising a tower crane, a control system, a material filling system, a material guiding tube and a 3D printing head. The control system is used for establishing a model, setting 3D printing precisions according to engineering construction requirements, cutting the established model in layers by the aid of 3D model establishing software and controlling the position of the 3D printing head via the tower crane according to model information in each layer. The material filling system stores construction materials according to model information of each layer and is communicated with the 3D printing head via the material guiding tube. Another solution know from the art discloses the use of polar coordinates for control purposes. In particular, US20163361834 discloses an automatic 3D printer working in a vertical position with a tower crane and a boom extending form it.

However, besides the wide range of existing solutions, the stabilization of crane-like structures and the precision of the movements of the same, in particular of its printing head, remains a bigger issue to be solved.

Summary

The present application describes a 3D printer apparatus to be installed in a crane-like structure. Said printer apparatus characterized by comprising:

— A slewing unit, comprising a ring gear installed in the top of the vertical mast, where the horizontal jib is coupled, and a driving motor configured to actuate the rotation of said ring gear;

— A trolley comprising a coupling unit and a lifting unit; the coupling unit comprising coupling means adapted to provide the coupling of trolley' s body to the horizontal jib's structure and a driving motor configured to move the trolley longitudinally along said jib's structure; the lifting unit comprises an operation arm and a coupling unit, wherein the operation arm, having a printer head installed in its lower extremity, by means of coupling means, said operation arm being extended and retracted in the vertical direction along the trolley' s structure by means of a guiding rail installed therein and by means of a driving motor; and a coupling unit comprising coupling means adapted to provide the coupling between the operation arm and the trolley' s body and a driving motor configured to move the operation arm in a vertical direction;

— A central control unit comprising processor means configured to control the operation:

— of the driving unit of the slewing unit; — of the driving motor of the trolley' s coupling unit ;

— of the driving motors of the operation arm and respective printing head;

In one embodiment of the apparatus, the coupling means of the trolley's driving unit are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is connected to the trolley' s body and the rack gear is welded along the horizontal jib's structure .

In another embodiment of the apparatus, the driving motor is engaged with the pinion gear with a worm gear mounted thereon, which is rotatable engaged with a spur gear.

Yet in another embodiment of the apparatus, the coupling means of the coupling unit of the trolley's lifting unit are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is installed in the trolley' s body, which engages on the rack gear mounted along the operation arm.

Yet in another embodiment of the apparatus, the driving motor is engaged with the pinion gear by means of a worm gear, which in turn drives a spur gear that connects the rack gear mounted on the operation arm.

Yet in another embodiment of the apparatus, the operation arm has a structure that surrounds a compressed pipe through which concrete material has its way from the extruder to the printing head.

Yet in another embodiment of the apparatus, the printing head is comprised by a printing unit and a sensor unit. Yet in another embodiment of the apparatus, the printing unit is comprised by at least one printing nozzle, said nozzle being mounted on a slewing unit which is connected to a driving motor, enabling the printing nozzle to rotate about a vertical axis of the operation arm.

Finally in another embodiment of the apparatus, a set of sensors is installed in the printing head, being configured to measure the distance to the ground of the printing head, and the concrete's flow that is expelled by the printing nozzles .

Detailed Description

The present application intends to solve the problem related to stabilization of a crane-like structure, used for 3D printing of buildings, and correspondent improvement in the precision of its movements.

For the purposes of explanation and definition of the technology described herein, several features and specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of it. However, it will be apparent that the present technology may be practiced without these specific details. Any of each features can be used independently of one another or with any combination of the other features. However, any individual feature might not address any of the problems discussed above or might only address one of the problems discussed above.

According to principles described herein, a 3D printer apparatus is developed, to be installed in a crane-like structure, with the purpose of improving the stability and precision of an automated housing construction process. In the context of the present disclosure, a crane-like structure is to be understood as an apparatus comprising a base bolted to a large concrete pad, which supports a vertical framework tower, or mast, on the top of which extends a long horizontal jib and a shorter horizontal counter jib, connected to the rear, and carrying a large counterweight.

In the light of that, it is an object of the present application to describe an automated 3D printer apparatus, to be used in building constructions, having a special structural arrangement that favors the stability and correspondent precision in its operations.

It is another object of the present application that said 3D printer apparatus can be installed directly in a crane-like structure, being adapted to build several houses or other objects within a construction site or printing area. Said construction site or printing area is limited by the long horizontal jib's operation range of the crane-like structure where the apparatus is installed.

It is another object of the present application to describe a 3D printer apparatus that shortens the construction time, and uses less resources, saving both on material and labor costs .

It is another object of the present application to describe a 3D printer apparatus that allows the printing construction process to be implemented on different levels, in order to build multi-storey houses. The above and other objects, features and other advantages of the present application will be described in detail in the following description.

In accordance with one aspect of the present application, the above and other objects can be accomplished by means of a 3D printer apparatus, said apparatus to be installed in a crane-like structure. The 3D printer apparatus is comprised by a slewing unit attached to the top of the vertical mast, a trolley installed in the long horizontal jib, and an embedded central control unit, which is configured to control the operation of both the trolley and the slewing unit.

In accordance with one aspect of the present application, the slewing unit is installed in the top of the vertical mast and its technical function is related to provide a mechanical and controlled coupling between the vertical mast and the horizontal jib. For that, the slewing unit is comprised by a ring gear mounted on the top of the vertical mast, where the horizontal jib element is engaged, promoting its control rotation in relation to the vertical axis of the mast, in particular the selection of this angular position, by means of a driving motor.

In accordance with another aspect of the present application the trolley is installed in the long horizontal jib and its technical purpose is related to configuration of the operation position of the printer. It is a body that is engaged to the jib's long horizontal structure, allowing it to perform longitudinal displacements along said jib's structure, by means of a coupling unit. Said coupling unit is comprised by coupling means and a driving motor. In accordance with one aspect of the present application, the coupling means are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear is connected to trolley' s body and the rack gear is welded along the thicker bridge horizontal jib's structure. In this context, the driving motor, promoting longitudinal displacements of the trolley, is engaged with the pinion by a worm gear mounted thereon, which is rotatable engaged with a spur gear. In accordance with another aspect of the present application, said coupling means are of wheels within the trolley and rails along the jib.

The trolley is also comprised by a lifting unit. Said lifting unit comprises an operation arm and a coupling unit. The operation arm is an elongate rigid structure that can be moved vertically, raised and lowered, through an aperture that extends through the trolley' s body by means of a guiding rail. For that, the lifting unit includes a coupling unit with coupling means suitable to provide the mechanical engagement between the operation arm and the trolley's body. The coupling unit also includes a driving motor, which by means of the mechanical engagement between the operation arm and the trolley' s body, provides a transversal displacement of the first in relation to the jib's structure where the second is installed. In accordance with one aspect of the present application, the coupling means are of a rack and pinion type, wherein the pinion gear installed in the trolley' s body engages on the rack gear mounted along the operation arm, acting as a reducer mechanism that is used to keep the operational speed low, helping to manage the operational speeds of the lift when shutting down the crane to not facing a sudden stop in high speed avoiding damage in gears. In this context, the driving motor of the coupling unit is engaged with the pinion gear by means of a worm gear, which in turn drives a spur gear that connects the rack gear mounted on the operation arm, driving the operation arm to move vertically along the trolley's body. In accordance with on aspect of the present application, the operation arm is of a squared cross-section design.

In another aspect of the present application, the operation arm of the lifting unit comprises a rotatable printing nozzle that is mounted at its lower end. The structure of the operation arm surrounds a compressed pipe through which concrete material has its way from the extruder to the printing nozzle. In one aspect of the present application, the printing nozzle is filled with concreted by a concrete extruder, being adapted to print concrete layers in a very precise manner at different levels according to the operation of the operation arm.

In accordance with another aspect of the present application, the rotatable printing nozzle comprises a printing unit and a sensor unit. The printing unit is comprised by at least one printing head, said head being mounted on a slewing mechanism, which is connected to a driving motor, enabling the printing nozzle to rotate about a vertical axis of the operation arm. The sensor unit comprises a set sensors planted around the frame at the head configured to measure the distance to the ground of the printing head, and the concrete's flow that is expelled by the printing heads.

With the structural arrangement of the operation arm, it is possible to combine several different set ups for the 3D printer apparatus, allowing it to cope with different construction levels. In accordance with an aspect of the present application, the operation of both the slewing unit and the trolley of the 3D printer apparatus is controlled by a central control unit. Said control is performed using a polar coordinate system to configure the operational positioning of the slewing unit, by selecting the angular position for the horizontal jib, the trolley and the operation arm, in order to set the desired position and elevation for the printing nozzle, according to the construction plan.

In particular, the central control unit is responsible to (i) control the operation of the apparatus's slewing unit and its driving unit, used to move the long horizontal jib in order to select the desired angular position; (ii) control the displacement of the trolley along the jib's structure, by actuating the driving motor of the trolley' s coupling unit; (iii) controlling the vertical displacements of the operation arm and printing head, by actuating the respective driving motors; (iv) control the flow of concrete that is expelled by the at least one printing nozzle of the printing head. The mentioned control operations are automatically performed without the intervention of an operator, which only have to program the desired construction plan in an initial configuration stage.

Brief description of drawings

For easier understanding of this application, figures are attached in the annex that represent the preferred forms of implementation which nevertheless are not intended to limit the technique disclosed herein. Figure 1 illustrates an embodiment of the 3D printer apparatus, installed in a crane-like structure, wherein the reference signs represent:

1 - slewing unit;

2 - trolley;

3 - operation arm;

4 - counterweight;

5 - rotatable printing nozzle;

6 - vertical mast;

7 - long horizontal jib;

Figure 2 illustrates the 3D printer apparatus, wherein the reference signs represents:

2 - trolley;

3 - operation arm;

5 - rotatable printing nozzle.

Figure 3 illustrates the rack and pinion coupling means of the lifting unit wherein the reference sings represents:

2 - trolley;

3 - operation arm.

Description of the embodiments

Now, preferred embodiments of the present application will be described in detail with reference to the annexed drawings. However, they are not intended to limit the scope of this application.

In one embodiment the 3D printer apparatus has a height of 4 meters and a radius of 5.5 meters, while the bed area or the printing area could attend about 88 square meter, where the vertical mast (6) of the crane-like structure is to be placed in the center of the bed area in the center gap. A slewing unit (1) is mounted to the upper end of the vertical mast (6), consisting of ring gear and a driving motor, that are used to rotate the long horizontal jib (7) to a selected angular position relative to the vertical mast (6) . A trolley (2) is movable longitudinally along the jib (7) . A coupling unit of rack and pinion a driving motor drives the trolley (2) to a selected longitudinal position along the jib (7) . A trolley (2) extends and retracts a rigid elongated operation arm (4) in a vertical direction to a selected height needed, by means of a driving motor. This operation arm (4) is mounted at the lower end by a rotatable printing nozzle (5) that could rotates to a selected angular position. In one embodiment, the printing nozzle (5) is comprised by three printing heads.

In another embodiment, the 3D printer apparatus is installed in a special crane-like structure where its long horizontal jib is divided into two bridges, having the one that carries the trolley a bigger thickness comparing to the other which role is to reduce the vibration and increase the stabilization of the apparatus' operation.

This description is of course not in any way restricted to the forms of implementation presented herein and any person with an average knowledge of the area can provide many possibilities for modification thereof without departing from the general idea as defined by the claims. The preferred forms of implementation described above can obviously be combined with each other. The following claims further define the preferred forms of implementation.