Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Cameron Turner

Committee Member

Garrett Pataky

Committee Member

Adam Hoover


Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a complex process that creates free-form geometric objects by sequentially placing material in a location to construct an object, usually as a layer-by-layer process. One of the most widespread methods is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). FDM is used in many of the consumer-grade polymer 3D printers available today. While consumer grade machines are cheap and plentiful, they lack many of the features desired in a machine used for research purposes and are often closed-source platforms. Commercial-grade models are more expensive and are also usually closed-source platforms that do not offer flexibility for modifications often needed for research. This research focuses on the design and fabrication of a machine to be used as a test bed for research in the field of polymer FDM processes. The goal was to create a platform that tightly controls and/or monitors the FDM build parameters so that experiments can be repeated with a known accuracy. The platform offers closed loop position feedback, control of the hot end and bed temperature, and monitoring of environment temperature and humidity. Additionally, the platform is equipped with cameras and a mechanism for in-situ photogrammetry, creating a geometric record of the print throughout the printing process. Through photogrammetry, backtracking and linking of process parameters to observable geometric defects can be achieved. The controls system and instrumentation are built on an open flexible paradigm enabling customization as necessary for future research.



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