Thermwood, an Indiana-based machine manufacturer known in the AM world for its LSAM technology, is taking its large-scale additive manufacturing to the next level. At the company’s recent 50th Anniversary Gala Open House, it unveiled a brand new LSAM model, the LSAM MT.
Compared to the standard LSAM system—a deposition-based process for large-scale parts—the LSAM MT comes with a new configuration and a number of updated features for certain applications. Among the printer’s more notable features is a new Moving Table system (MT), which consists of a single fixed gantry that is mounted over a moving build table. (This is in contrast to the LSAM system which uses dual gantries moving over a fixed table).
Thermwood is releasing two versions of its LSAM MT: a 10 x 5 foot table or a 10 x 10 foot table. According to the company, the moving table approach reduces the cost of the AM system substantially, while stiff offering an industrial, production solution with large-scale capabilities.
Another notable aspect of the LSAM MT is that it can be configured as a “Print only” machine. While the standard LSAM system integrates both additive and subtractive capabilities (in order to print near net shape parts and machine them down to their final shape), customers can choose whether they want to work with a “Print only” LSAM MT or a “Print and Trim” configuration.
This is because Thermwood recognizes that some of its clients will already have machining capabilities in house and may not need the additional subtractive tools. Even having the additive-only LSAM MT system will allow users to construct near net shape tools or parts which then require substantially less machining time than fully machined tools.
Vertical layer printing
As stated, Thermwood is releasing the LSAM MT in two sizes: one with a 10 x 5 ft table and one with a 10 x 10 ft table. The latter system actually has a table measuring 10 x 12 feet (with a 10 x 10 ft working area). The additional two feet can mount the optional Vertical Layer Print table.
If installed, Thermwood’s patented Vertical Layer Printing technology allows users to print 5 x 10 x 10 feet (as opposed to 10 x 10 x 5 feet using traditional Horizontal Layer Printing).
The LSAM MT integrates the same print technology and print heads as Thermwood’s existing LSAM systems, meaning it can achieve the same print speeds and quality. The system is also compatible with high temperature polymers and is well suited for manufacturing autoclave capable tooling and compression molds for thermoset materials
Those familiar with Thermwood’s existing LSAM systems might be scratching their heads, swearing that the original LSAM had a significantly larger build capacity. This is true. With a 10 x 20 foot or 10 x 40 foot configuration, the standard LSAM is significantly larger. According to Thermwood, however, this doesn’t mean that the new LSAM MT is not still suited for large-format production.
Because the LSAM technology’s print speed is largely dependent on the cooling rate of the material rather than the print head’s deposition rate, it can actually be advantageous to segment a larger structure into smaller components, so they can be printed at once on a single build plate.
The company explains: “LSAM print heads can print faster, sometimes significantly faster than needed for most parts. Often it can print two three or more parts in the cooling time required for each layer. The large machine is only printing a single part, one layer at a time, making it two or three time slower. To print the part in one piece, the large machine must operate continuously, around the clock, sometimes for days… With the MT, several different segments of the same part can often be printed in a single shift. Depending on the item being printed, it is possible to print as much in a single shift as the large machine, printing a single part, can do in 24 hours.”