One of the most fascinating frontiers of 3D printing is finding out exactly how large it can go, and that’s what large format additive manufacturing, LFAM for short, is for. In astronomy, the physics of the very small can sometimes help us to understand what happens in the very large (for example in the first few seconds of the existence of our Universe). However, it’s not always easy – or even possible – to reconcile these two aspects. Similarly, in additive manufacturing processes there are similarities but also great differences in how these technologies operate at the nanoscale and the macroscale. Nevertheless, the size of large format additive manufacturing seems to be expanding at a steady pace, doubling every couple of years or so.

There are many different approaches to LFAM, especially in light of the fact that very few technologies have inherent size limitations. In theory, just about every technology could be scaled up indefinitely. You could build a huge inkjet head or an enormous powder bed for binder jetting. Material extrusion could theoretically be scaled up infinitely by adding more and more extruding robots working together.

Many of these approaches have already been tested successfully. Some of the largest LFAM 3D printers ever built are extrusion systems – cartesian or robotic – working with cement and composites. Others, also working with sand-like material are based on a binder jetting powder bed approach. Plastics were initially limited by material warpage but the introduction of carbon and glass fiber reinforcement enabled cartesian printers (often evolved from large industrial CNC systems) to produce plastic parts several meters long.

In the meantime, more and more industrial SLA systems are becoming available with vats as wide as two meters. It’s not a matter of resolution, just patience. The process may be slow but it is now sufficiently reliable that the laser can be trusted to photopolymerize without error for days and days.

In metals, while PBF processes are also now able to produce parts larger than one cubic meter, using multiple lasers and larger, multi-area powder bed, the biggest breakthroughs in terms of size come from increased adoption of DED and WAAM based processes. These LFAM systems are able to deposit very large quantities of material to produce complex parts to near net shape. Since in many cases they are built by large machine tool companies, they can also leverage extensive expertise in digital multi-axis motion controls as well as strong financial backing.

3D printing is now larger than ever, and it’s just gonna get bigger. This section is where we keep you updated on the biggest achievements in large format 3D printing. If you would like to know more about the companies that produce the world’s largest 3D printers, make sure you visit the dedicated section on 3D Printing Business Directory.

  • Jozeph Forakis presents the world's first 3D printed superyacht. The 88m vessel, titled 'PEGASUS', will be made using robotic LFAM.

    Jozeph Forakis, a world-renowned designer, has just presented his latest PEGASUS project – an 88m long, solar-electric/hydrogen hybrid-powered, 3D printed superyacht with reflective ‘solar wings’. Conceived on a beach on Koufonissi island, in Greece – the superyacht was designed to fit seamlessly into nature, and become almost invisible when on…

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  • After launching the largest robotic LFAM system in Dubai last week, Dutch company CEAD is looking to strengthen its presence in the Middle East by signing Immensa as its distributor for the region. Immensa and CEAD will partner on several fronts. With offices in Dubai, Kuwait, Amman (Jordan), Dammam (Saudi…

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  • UMaine (and the University of Maine System) was awarded $7.6 million from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for Phase 3 of the Hub and Spoke Program. This phase will focus on continuing the development of sustainable structurally reinforced materials while expanding into functionally modified bio-based materials using a wider range…

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  • The Promised Land is generally intended as the land of Israel, which, according to the Bible’s Old Testament, God promised and subsequently gave to Abraham and several more times to his descendants. Metaphorically speaking, the idea of a Promised Land is also well suited for describing 3D printing’s potential, as…

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  • Caracol’s all-encompassing offering makes LFAM easier than ever before - with the High Flow Extruder and the Automatic Printing Bed.

    The additive manufacturing industry’s interest in robotic printing solutions and other forms of Large Format AM is increasing rapidly – as was made obvious at this year’s Formnext, in Frankfurt. With fiber-reinforced materials, and the abilities and cost efficiencies generated by printing using granules, it is becoming easier and more…

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  • What is Fortius Metals and what does it mean for the AM industry? An interview with Jeff Lints, the founder and CEO of Fortius Metals.

    Later today, Fortius Metals, a Colorado-based LFAM company specializing in the development and adoption of metals for robotic 3D printing/WAAM technology, will announce its recent $2 million investment from AM Ventures. Prior to this announcement, 3dpbm had the opportunity to catch up with Jeff Lints, a serial entrepreneur, and Fortius…

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  • WAAM3D

    WAAM3D, a company founded by a research team from Cranfield University, has sold a RoboWAAM Advanced to Aichi Sangyo, Japan. This is the sixteenth deposition system sold by WAAM3D since 2020, reaching as many as eight countries globally. Aichi Sangyo is a leading industrial solution provider for metal processing industries…

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  • RX-Flow 3D printer

    Chromatic 3D Materials is launching RX-Flow™, a new line of 3D printers for reactive extrusion additive manufacturing with thermoset polyurethanes. Designed for development work and low-volume industrial production, RX-Flow™ printers are a low-cost option for manufacturers interested in testing and implementing industrial 3D printing with more durable, flexible materials than are available…

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  • A collaboration between UK-based Ai Build and KUKA Systems UK Ltd. has culminated in the development of the AMCell_  series; turnkey, integrated, 3D printing systems. The series launches with the AMCell_small, the first of three standardized cell iterations. AMCell_small is aimed specifically at the academic sector, for schools, universities and…

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  • Caracol to exhibit the future of LFAM at Formnext. Showcasing the latest Heron AM system, and case studies from across major industries.

    This year, at Formnext, in Frankfurt, Germany, Caracol will be exhibiting the company’s integrated hardware and software LFAM platform, Heron AM, together with five case studies developed with clients across sectors. This will be the first time that visitors will be able to see the 100% in-house-developed, multi-axis robotic platform…

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