3D Printing ProcessesEnvironment

UPM demonstrates large scale robotic 3D printing of wood polymer composites

The granules used are made of of 100% recyclable UPM Formi biocomposite

UPM, a Finnish biopolymer specialist, is demonstrating large scale robotic 3D printing of wood composite applications, using its granulate biocompatible cellulose material. The project was developed in collaboration with ABB and Prenta and is being presented at the Nordic 3D Expo in the Espoo Dipoli Congress Centre.

Large scale granulate-based 3D printing opens new possibilities for designers and manufacturers. The robot-based granulate printing enables time- and cost-efficient fabrication of large-scale 3D parts with short lead-time. Potential business areas include for example furniture design, molding and marine industry applications.

“An industrial robot printing together with UPM Formi 3D biocomposite enables large components to be 3D printed with high geometrical tolerances. The PrentaRobo is designed for the manufacturing industry as a tool to create new and cost-efficient products,” says Riku Rusanen, CEO of Prenta Finland.

robotic 3D printing of wood

ABB Robotics has played an important role in developing the innovative robot-based 3D printing system. ABB is the leading supplier of industrial robots and robot software, equipment and complete application solutions.

“This is a pioneering technological innovation that represents the next level in large scale industrial 3D printing. We’ve made possible to use an extrusion head in our IRB6700  6-axis robot to create a 3D printing system that’s ideal for very precise and large scale additive manufacturing. External axes and track-motion have been added to achieve an even bigger working area. Users can then control the extrusion head and create printing paths with our 3D simulation program RobotStudio, the industry’s leading PC-based solution for offline programming, configuration and virtual commissioning,” says Pasi Kukkonen, Product Manager, ABB Oy Robotics.

Evolving biocomposite technology

UPM Formi 3D grades been specially developed for 3D printing. The material brings together advanced cellulose fiber and biopolymer technologies. UPM Formi 3D is produced and sold in granule form directly for fused granular fabrication (FGF) or to producers of 3D filaments. Granulate based printing with ABB industrial robot together with UPM biocomposite has been implemented in Sweden by the 3D makerspace The Wood Region.

“Together with our partners, we are exploring the new possibilities in the field of large scale 3D printing,” said Eve Saarikoski, Applications Manager, UPM Biocomposites. “Large scale 3D printing technology is fast evolving and we are part of the evolution with our biocomposite technology offering new wood-based materials for the markets,”

UPM Formi 3D’s low shrinkage and self-supporting melt flow up to enable printing up to 75°C, ensuring that large objects with round or other complex shapes can be printed without warpage issues, even directly onto a plywood surface. Wood like post-processing of prints is another benefit of the biocomposite: prints can easily finished by conventional wood processing methods.  UPM Formi 3D grades are 100% recyclable and also available with FSC® and PEFC(TM) certification.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as both a technology journalist and communications consultant. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree. Specializing in covering the AM industry, he founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial and market analysys&consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, as well as several editorial websites, including 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. Since 2016 he is also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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