Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc. long-awaited “largest 3D printer in the world” is now ready. With a gargantuan work envelope measuring W 23’ x H 10’ x L 46’, the WHAM composite 3D printer was originally announced as a partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2016. The goal was to develop massive 3D printers leveraging the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.
Ingersoll, a leading supplier of large machine tools and processes, thus entered the 3D printing world with the initial development of Wide and High Additive Manufacturing (WHAM) machines. The machines represent an unparalleled class of extremely large 3D printers capable of printing a wide range of composite plastics combined with the speed and precision of an aerospace grade machine tool.
Ingersoll’s WHAM machines break new ground in the additive manufacturing industry not just for sheer size capabilities buy also for a target material deposition rate of 1,000 lbs/hr. This means that the WHAM machines will perform at an order of magnitude larger and faster than any printer currently on the market. Built on a platform of existing modular components, the machine size can be customized to various specifications. Ingersoll has experience developing machines with work zones as large as W 40’ x H 20’ x L 250’. The WHAM system includes an automatic exchange system for the printing extruder with a high-speed 5-axis milling attachment for conventional subtractive finishing operations.
While new to 3D printing, Ingersoll’s development of WHAM drew on a wealth of existing proficiencies. Ingersoll continues to compile an impressive resume of many of the world’s largest metal cutting and automated fiber placement (AFP) machines. Ingersoll’s industry-leading AFP technology is an additive composite process in itself. Tino Oldani, President & CEO stated “Our machine design expertise combined with the ability to develop a complete process for our customers makes WHAM a logical step forward. Our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory gives us a huge advantage.”
Ingersoll has entered the WHAM development process through a cooperative research and development agreement with ORNL in Tennessee. ORNL is highly respected for advancing additive manufacturing technology and their added experience is greatly accelerating the project. Ingersoll’s Mike Reese, Director of Sales explained that “Working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory provides a fast track to match the current state of the art and take it to the next level as quickly as possible.”
“Our collaboration with Ingersoll on the development of a 3D printer that provides a volume not possible with current printers could open up new markets and applications in defense, energy and other areas of manufacturing. Ingersoll brings years of experience engineering massive equipment in the composites area, and we look forward to a successful partnership,” said Bill Peter, director of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.