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.

  • 3D printed pedestrian Smart Bridge unveiled at Autodesk University 2022 - designed in partnership with Autodesk, and Dar Al-Handasah.

    According to Arabian Business, the first prototype of a real-scale, five-meter long, 3D printed pedestrian Smart Bridge was unveiled at the Autodesk University (AU) 2022 conference, which took place on September 27-29 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The bridge was designed in the UAE, in partnership with American software company, Autodesk,…

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  • iFactory3D introduces One Pro 3D belt printer. Enabling the printing of objects in series, around the clock, and without supervision.

    German startup, iFactory3D, will present its One Pro 3D belt printer, whose technology has the potential to automate additive manufacturing worldwide, at this year’s Formnext. The One Pro 3D belt printer enables objects to be printed in series around the clock without supervision, thanks to the built-in conveyor belt and…

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  • University of Pittsburgh acquires Gefertec arc605 printer - the only one in the US to have on-campus access to the 5-axis metal 3D printer.

    Last month, the university of Pittsburgh became the first university in the US to have a Gefertec arc605 on campus. The arc605 is a state-of-the-art, 5-axis metal 3D printer, developed by Gefertec, a 3D printer manufacturer based in Germany. According to Albert To, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson…

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  • Velo3D qualifies M300 tool steel for use in Sapphire printers. An ultra-low carbon alloy that delivers very high strength and hardness.

    Velo3D, a leading metal additive manufacturing technology company for mission-critical parts, has qualified M300 tool steel, an ultra-low carbon alloy that delivers very high strength and hardness, for use in Velo3D’s Sapphire printers. Velo3D has already seen extensive interest in the alloy from automotive manufacturers for use in high-pressure die…

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  • DBZ (Divide by Zero Technologies), one of India’s leading 3D Printer manufacturers, has launched AION NX, the next frontier in large format hybrid 3D printing. The AION NX system addresses the needs of pattern and mold makers, large component manufacturers of the automobile, defense, aerospace, and innovators in the Research…

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  • As extrusion LFAM technologies continue to grow in adoption, with larger machines, improved capabilities and ever more powerful tools, CARACOL AM, a company that has been at the forefront of this revolution since it began, is ready to take flight towards an entirely new phase of its growth, on the…

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  • Baker Industries, LEAS, and GA-ASI partner on WAAM study. Exploring the feasibility of wire-arc AM for producing steel layup tooling

    Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company – an industry-leading supplier to OEM and Tier 1 manufacturers in some of the world’s most demanding industries – and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions (LEAS) have entered into a new strategic relationship with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on a research and development…

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  • Norbert J. Kott, US Army DEVCOM-GVSC Materials, Additive Manufacturing (Detroit Arsenal, Warren, MI) reports in an article that appeared on the SME’s website that they US Army is working with LFAM 3D printer manufacturers Ingersoll (part of the Camozzi Group) and Virginia-based MELD Manufacturing on the Jointless Hull project. Goal…

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  • New Sapphire XC 1MZ enables metal 3D printing up to 1m in height. Velo3D's large-format printer's build volume is 9x larger than the original

    Velo3D, a leading metal additive manufacturing technology company for mission-critical parts, has added the new Sapphire XC 1MZ large-format printer to its Sapphire family of printers. The Sapphire XC 1MZ printer allows customers to print parts up to one meter in height – with a total build volume twice the…

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  • EVO 3D and CEAD offer customized pellet 3D printer package. Particularly for end-part applications for design and recreational purposes.

    EVO 3D is set to offer CEADs technology components as part of one of their customized pellet 3D printer packages. The partnership will mainly be geared towards end-part applications for design and recreational purposes, particularly in the UK. EVO 3D, a UK-based provider of 3D printing solutions, offers a broad…

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