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.

Nikola Corporation installs large format 3D printer

EV truck manufacturers are emerging as leading innovators in manufacturing. After Quantron used VJET X technology to produce an engine…

2 weeks ago

DSM introduces EcoPaXX AM4001 GF bio-based pellets for 3D printing

Royal DSM is introducing EcoPaXX AM4001 GF (G), a new high-performance material for fused granulate fabrication or 3D pellet printing.…

3 weeks ago

Scaled unveils Project Chameleon 3D printed electric vehicle

Scaled Ltd, a UK firm specializing in large format 3D printing via a robotic extrusion process, unveiled its Project Chameleon…

1 month ago

Thermwood 3D prints single hull mold for a 51-foot long yacht

Large format composite pellets 3D printing firm Thermwood recently printed several sections from a 51-foot long yacht hull mold to…

1 month ago

How Dimensional Innovations 3D printed the 93-ft-tall memorial torch for the Las Vegas Raiders stadium

Almost a year ago, we got wind of an immense 3D printing undertaking in Nevada: the new Allegiant Stadium, soon…

2 months ago

Thermwood and General Atomics save $50K by 3D printing large-scale tool

Indiana-based Thermwood, a machining and large-format AM manufacturer, has once again demonstrated how its LSAM system is a viable tooling…

3 months ago

Massivit 3D adds UK-based Solid Print3D to reseller network

Large-format 3D printer manufacturer Massivit 3D has signed a distribution agreement with Solid Print3D, a UK-based supplier of 3D printing…

3 months ago

Thermwood demonstrates Vertical Layer Print tech with LSAM MT

Thermwood Corporation has demonstrated a new approach to large-scale 3D printing, one that builds parts up vertically rather than horizontally.…

3 months ago

MX3D successfully installs 3D printed Robot Arm

MX3D, an Amsterdam-based company that has invented a large-format metal 3D printer, has made an exciting announcement for those following…

5 months ago

Modix releases three new large-format AM systems

Modix, an Israeli-based 3D printer manufacturer, has expanded its portfolio of large-format AM systems for the aerospace, automotive and prosthetic…

5 months ago