Thermwood Corporation has demonstrated a new approach to large-scale 3D printing, one that builds parts up vertically rather than horizontally. The unique process, which has been adapted for the company’s low-cost LSAM MT printer, is enabled thanks to Thermwood’s patented Vertical Layer Print (VLP) technology.
Thermwood’s VLP technology is capable of producing much taller parts than conventional horizontal printing. The technique, which has already been employed using the company’s bigger LSAM systems, has successfully produced parts over 20 feet in height. Now, the company has demonstrated how its VLP technology is not only possible using its high-end LSAM systems but also its lower cost LSAM MT machine, which has a fixed gantry and a moving table.
With the LSAM MT, Thermwood says it needed a fundamentally different approach for vertical printing, which consists of printing parts on a support structure that is fixed to the back and rides on the moving table. The company adds: “A second 5 foot by 10 foot print table is mounted vertically to the back of the main table. As the part grows, the moving table pulls the part onto the support structure. Using this approach, the LSAM MT can then print parts up to 5 foot (Z Axis) by 10 foot (X Axis) by 10 foot (Y Axis).”
Thermwood demonstrated the new technique by printing parts made from both low and high temperature thermoplastic materials. The first part was made from carbon fiber reinforced ABS, and the second from Techmer blended 25% carbon fiber reinforced PSU/PESU. The part made from the high-temp PSU/PESU weighed 1190 pounds (the maximum weight for the moving table system) and was completed within 16 hours and 40 minutes. (Its larger systems can theoretically print vertical parts weighing up to 50,000 pounds).
The part demonstrates the LSAM MT’s ability to print tall vertical parts from both low temperature materials (common for industrial tooling, fixtures, foundry patterns, etc.) and high temperature materials like PSU/PESU, which is used for molds and tooling that much withstand high temperatures, including those used in autoclave. Thermwood adds that it is able to print large parts that can sustain vaccuum to aerospace standards without the need for a secondary coating.