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.

BigRep announces Boston HQ and expanded 3D printing services

Large-format 3D printing company BigRep has announced the opening of a new headquarters and the expansion of its North American…

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WAAM3D secures major investment from Accuron Technologies

WAAM3D Ltd has secured what it calls a major investment from Singapore-baed engineering and technology company Accuron Technologies Ltd. The…

3 weeks ago

WASP and Technogym bring 3D printing to the wellness industry

With yearly revenues above €650 million in 2018, Italy-based Technogym is one of the largest global operators in the wellness…

3 weeks ago

Someone 3D printed a life-size teenage Drogon from Games of Thrones

Youtube channel 3D Maker Things, which specializes in very large format and life-size print jobs, just completed a life-size replica…

4 weeks ago

ADDere shows viability of 3D printing large, high-mass metal parts

ADDere, the metal AM arm of Wisconsin-based Midwest Engineered Systems (MWES), has demonstrated how its Laser Wire Additive Manufacturing (LWAM) technology…

1 month ago

MX3D 3D prints structural steel connector for Takenaka

MX3D, an Amsterdam-based metal 3D printing company, has revealed a collaboration with Japanese architecture and engineering firm Takenaka. Together, the…

3 months ago

New Allegiant NFL stadium will house largest 3D printed structure in the world

In a town called Paradise in Nevada, there stands a massive steel structure which will soon be the home of…

3 months ago

MX3D and Altair redesign and 3D print optimized robotic arm

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

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3 months 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 months ago