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.

  • Saving an ancient tower dating back to 1161 from decadence. This is where the project that led to the construction of the Capitolare Suite Tower begins: an exclusive luxury location created by Andrea Borlenghi, a 29-year-old entrepreneur with career in the world of AM startups. Now you can book to…

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  • 3D Systems has entered into an agreement to acquire Titan Additive LLC, aka Titan Robotics, the Colorado-based designer and fabricator of large-format, industrial 3D printers. As a market leader in pellet-based polymer extrusion 3D printing technology, and the only manufacturer offering hybrid tool head configurations, Titan Robotics provides solutions to…

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  • Defense technology company Anduril Industries today announced it has acquired Boston-based start-up Dive Technologies, a pioneer in autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), especially with the LFAM 3D printed DIVE-LD system. This acquisition expands Anduril’s suite of autonomous systems, including the proprietary Lattice OS software, and it also extends its unmanned capabilities…

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  • Massivit 3D Printing Technologies is, for the first time, entering the defense industries market: the company, which engages in the development, manufacture, and sales of 3D printers and printing materials, signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Kanfit to install its state-of-the-art Massivit 10000 printer at Kanfit’s plants and for the purpose…

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  • Pipelife is the first company to apply automated 3D printing and software to produce customized manhole and inspection chamber flow profiles for drainage systems. After a great deal of development work since the first printer was introduced 1.5 years ago, Pipelife is preparing to roll out 3D printing to the…

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  • Not everyone associates the Camozzi name with some of the largest and most high-profile 3D printing projects ever done, from the first full-size, fully 3D printed boat to giant tools and construction components. With the opening of the Camozzi Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) center in Milan, hosting MasterPrint, the world’s largest…

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  • Magnum Venus Products (MVP), a global manufacturer of fluid movement and production solutions for industrial applications is launching a new model of its Reactive Additive Manufacturing (RAM) system to enable cost-effective fabrication of thermoset materials at medium- and large-scale. The new model, named RAM 48, has a print area of…

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  • Collaboration inspires innovation. This is the motto under which companies Colossus, known for application-driven large-scale 3D printing, and colorFabb, known for the development of high-quality specialized filaments have formed a new partnership with the goal of bringing LW materials – and specifically lightweight foaming materials – to the FGF market.…

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  • Massivit 3D Printing Technologies (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange: MSVT), a leading provider of large-scale 3D printing systems, opened its Americas Experience Center, located in metropolitan Atlanta Georgia. A Massivit 5000 is already installed and the new Massivit 10000 is coming in 2022 The new Americas Experience Center is equipped with…

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  • Dimensional Innovations bench IDS Center

    Dimensional Innovations, the Kansas-based company responsible for 3D printing the 93-foot-tall Al Davis Memorial Torch for the new Allegiant Stadium in Nevada (home of the Las Vegas Raiders), has been put to work again, this time delivering a series of large-scale 3D printed benches for the IDS Center in Minneapolis.…

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