Large Format

One of the most fascinating frontiers of 3D printing is finding out exactly how large it can go. 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 3D printing seems to be expanding at a steady pace, doubling every couple of years or so.


There are many different approaches to large format 3D printing, 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 3D printers ever built are pneumatic extrusion systems – cartesian or robotic – working with cement. 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 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.

LOCI: BigRep’s 3D printed pod car showcases embedded NFC chip tech

BigRep, the German large-scale 3D printing specialist, has brought a 3D printed “pod car” named LOCI to Formnext 2019. The…

2 days ago

Thermwood presents new LSAM MT 3D printer

Thermwood, an Indiana-based machine manufacturer known in the AM world for its LSAM technology, is taking its large-scale additive manufacturing…

3 days ago

Modix launches XXL-format MAMA 3D printer for automotive, aerospace & marine sectors

Modix, a large-format 3D printer specialist based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has launched its latest printer, the Modix MAMA. The…

1 week ago

Thermwood and Purdue lay groundwork for 3D printed compression mold tooling

Machine manufacturer Thermwood has achieved a milestone in the development of 3D printed composite molds for compression molding. The company,…

1 week ago

One Piece characters 3D printed to real-life size for 20th anniversary of manga series

One Piece manga fans had a chance to get interactive with their favorite One Piece characters 3D printed in huge…

1 month ago

Night King wins first prize in the first Life-size 3D Print contest

Life-size 3D printing is emerging as one of the biggest - literally - consumer applications for 3D printing. The Life-size…

1 month ago

Northwestern researchers unveil HARP 3D printer with record-breaking throughput

Researchers from Northwestern University have been developing a stereolithography-based 3D printing technology that is capable of incredibly high throughputs and…

1 month ago

UMaine receives three Guinness World Records, including largest 3D printed boat

It’s a big day for the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Literally. The university has been awarded not one,…

1 month ago

Yvo de Haas (YTEC) creates perfectly functional fully 3D printed Portal turret replica

As readers of this website know well, we focus on providing key market insights on additive manufacturing industry operators, working…

3 months ago

SLM 800: a closer look at SLM Solutions’ large-format AM solution

At Formnext 2017, German 3D printer manufacturer SLM Solutions presented, for the very first time, its prototype SLM 800 solution,…

4 months ago