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Large Format 3d Printing

Whenever 3d printing comes to mind we immediately tend to think about small intricate parts. Some of that perception is driven by the fact that most consumer and commercial grade 3d printers only provide a build area of less than 12 inches or 300mm in any dimension. However, large format 3D printing is rapidly becoming possible for businesses of all sizes. New 3D printer models are entering the market with massive build volumes capable of producing parts a meter or more in length. With the commercial introduction of Large Format 3d Printing technology, creating large yet complex parts is no longer a challenge.

Large Format 3d Printing doesn’t only enable businesses to 3D print larger parts with ease but also saves time and money by reducing production times and material waste. These machines unlock the power to 3d print large parts like turbine blades, car chassis, and aircraft wings. With the freedom from design limitations that 3d printing provides, these parts can further benefit from features like light-weighting and enhanced performance.

Today’s article will explore the current large format 3d printing technologies available along with the material choices and their applications. We’ll also analyze the upcoming technologies that will revolutionize the large format 3d printing industry.

Large Scale 3d Printing Technologies

 

A number of technologies are already available when it comes to large scale 3d printing. Let us look at some of the commercially available technologies below:

  1. Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM)

BAAM is one of the largest 3d printing technologies currently available. It uses an extruder placed on a gentry system and can create parts as large as 6 x 2.4 x 2m. It mainly uses thermoplastic materials like ABS, PPS, PC, PLA, and PEI. The BAAM configuration and manufacturing process are essentially identical to that of smaller FDM 3D printing technologies. The main difference is the size and scale of the equipment which requires a modified approach when designing the printer itself.

 

large format 3D printing - BAAM - local motors

BAAM Large format 3D Printing – Local Motors

 

  1. Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM)

An LSAM 3d printer has a building envelope of approximately 37 sqm and has the ability to print parts both horizontally and vertically. Its unique feature is its ability to produce parts using a hybrid approach – combining additive and subtractive technologies. LSAM is mainly used for producing industrial tooling, such as molds and production fixtures for automotive and aerospace industries.

  1. Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM)

EBAM uses a similar process to welding, where metal is melted using an electron beam into wire form. Using this process, manufacturing of large scale metal parts with enhanced properties and microstructures is possible. Therefore, EBAM mainly has applications in industrial, naval, military and aerospace industries.

  1. Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)

WAAM uses an electric arc to melt metals and can make parts up to 10 m in length. It uses metal alloys such as titanium, stainless steel, nickel and bronze alloys. WAAM is very similar to EBAM and is typically used in similar applications.

  1. Large-format 3D printing with sand

Sand based 3d printing uses a process called Binder Jetting. A liquid agent is selectively deposited onto a layer of sand to join sand particles together in accordance with the input geometry. This technology is particularly effective in the foundry industry. By using this method, large format cast metal parts can be produced much faster and at a lower cost than traditional methods.

 

Applications of Large Format 3D Printing

Let us have a look at the industries that can make use of large format 3d printing technologies to manufacture complex and larger parts. We will see that these industries benefit from catalyzed production, accelerated delivery, reduced material waste and the ability to create new geometries that were not achievable with traditional processes.

Learn more about the Large Format 3D printer that made these parts

  1. Aerospace

3d printing has already been successfully deployed in the production of small to medium-sized parts, helping manufacturers save time and reduce costs. The Aerospace industry has been arguably one of the most enthusiastic adopters of 3D printing technology.

When it comes to the 3d printing of larger parts, the new possibilities are unveiling at a rapid speed. The benefits of using 3d printing for large parts manufacturing include reduced manufacturing time, the ability to manufacture complex geometries and less wastage of materials. These benefits are particularly enticing for the aerospace industry.

Large aerospace parts can sometimes take months to manufacture using traditional manufacturing processes. But with large format 3d printing, these parts can be manufactured in just the fraction of time and with enhanced material properties. Using a technique called consolidation, the technology can be used to multi-print different components as a single part, further reducing assembly times.

The material waste can exceed to around 80% in some traditional manufacturing processes and hence less material waste alone can save you a significant amount of money when it comes to 3d printing.

 

  1. Automotive

The replacement of long tail parts for classic vehicles has always been an excellent application for 3D printing. With the advancements of large format 3D printing, now almost any part of the vehicle can be replicated using one of the techniques above. Replicating automotive body panels, bezels and even mechanical parts can be accomplished using large format 3D printing. Furthermore, entire vehicles have actually been fully constructed out of 3D printed materials. Incorporating 3D printed parts has the advantage of lightweighting for performance vs. traditional manufacturing methods.

  1. Construction

The concept of large format 3d printing is still relatively new when it comes to construction industries. However, it is rapidly gaining popularity as some recent developments have proved the possibilities and advantages of using 3d printing as an assistive technology in the construction industry. Formworks act as a mold and concrete is later poured to achieve the desired geometry. Traditional formworks are traditionally made manually, usually with wood. These formworks can only withstand 15 to 20 castings and take a lot of effort and time to build by hand.

By using BAAM technology and large format 3d printing, these formworks can be produced in complex shapes within hours. High performing thermoplastics are used in BAAM, which can withstand as many as 200 concrete pours in its lifetime.

3d printed house

Large format 3D printing – 3D Printed Housing

  1. Foundry

The foundry industry creates metal castings by melting and pouring metal into specially shaped molds. The process is extremely time consuming and very complex shapes are not possible. However, with 3D printing, these traditional methods are quickly becoming outdated. With large format 3d printing, the foundry processes will take significantly less time. Furthermore, much more complex geometries will be possible when compared to traditional methods. This enhanced design freedom once again truly revolutionizes the possible applications.

Above all, the possibilities of large format 3d printing are immense. Larger parts can be manufactured at unprecedented speeds and reduced costs. Ultimately, this technology will expand to other markets including automotive and even creative advertising.

MAKEiT at the Space Tech Expo in Pasadena, CA

Last week we had a blast attending the Space Tech Expo in beautiful downtown Pasadena. It was excellent to meet so many knowledgeable industry professionals, to share our products, and to learn more about other cutting edge technologies.

The MAKEiT Pro-M on display. Image credit Space Tech Expo USA 2017.

 

Austin Baker explains the process of going from 3D printed prototype to a cast aluminum part. Image credit Space Tech Expo USA 2017.

 

Russell Singer demonstrates the unique features and capabilities of MAKEiT printers to a professional audience. Image credit Space Tech Expo USA 2017.

A big thank you from the MAKEiT team to everyone who took the time to stop by our booth at the event. We hope to see you again soon!

Misumi Design Spotlight on MAKEiT, Inc.

MISUMI is a all types of industrial hardware, and in the 3D printing world is widely considered to have the best bearings and bearing shafts available. These high quality components have been an ingredient to MAKEiT’s precision for over two years. The good folks at MISUMI recently got in touch with us, wanting to know more about our story, philosophy, and how we make use of their great products. Check out the full article on Misumi’s website here.

For our next series of posts, we will be spotlighting MAKEiT Inc., a 3D printing company.  3D printing is a rapidly growing industry so it was only natural to dive into the design of them.  In each of these posts, we will cover the history, designs, designing with MISUMI parts, advantages, and even the future of 3D printing.  Subscribe to stay up to date weekly!

Q1: Tell me about the history of MAKEiT, Inc.

MAKEiT, Inc. started in a garage in Pasadena, California. From the beginning, we’ve focused on making 3D printers suited for the demanding applications of manufacturing and precision engineering. With so many exceptional institutions in our local area, we had no trouble finding experienced and demanding early adopters to aid our development. Our earliest testing partners became our first customers, and in 2014 our earliest machines found permanent homes at California Institute of Technology and Art Center College of Design. Today we have multiple product offerings and a unique market niche, serving some of the most well-known names across various segments including Lockheed Martin, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, Boston Scientific, Kia Motor Company, etc.

Read the full story here.

3D printed vortex generator

The First Layer: Concealed Layer Start Points

When you’re trying to get the best quality possible out of your 3D printed parts, there are some obvious choices for how to setup the print. Finer layer heights and lower speeds can improve finish and accuracy, but is that all there is for improving quality in your printed parts? One subtle yet very effective way of improving the uniformity of your surfaces is by controlling your layer start points.

With the sole exception of printing using the “spiral vase” method, every time your printer starts a new layer it leaves behind a tell-tale mark caused by the motion path of the nozzle. It’s possible to minimize these marks through optimization but they won’t ever go away entirely. One nice benefit of using Simplify3D is the added ability to plan your layer start points. When done effectively the small marks can be concealed within geometry that makes it impossible to notice. Can you see the layer start points in the first photo above? What about the zoomed in version below?

3D printed vortex generator

If you look carefully along the bottom edge of the part you’ll notice all of the layer start points are consolidated along the edge where it rolls over. By placing your start points along a specific geometric feature, it’s possible to create very controllable “seams” that diminish into your design. Keep reading below and I’ll show how you can use planned layer seams to improve your printed parts! Continue reading

WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast Features Design by MAKEiT’s Russell Singer

We first ran into the team behind the WTFFF?! 3D printing podcast about a year ago at SoCal MakerCon in Pomona, California. Since then we’ve had a few opportunities to talk with hosts Tom and Tracy Hazzard and it’s always a privilege to catch them, either on the podcast or at local events. It’s exactly a year after we met and WTFFF?! is revisiting a conversation about 3D printed design. If you haven’t heard it before take a listen to the WTFFF?! conversation about the 3D printed table shown here, designed by MAKEiT’s Russell Singer, or check out more photos of this and more 3D printed designs in our photo gallery!

3D Printing for Injection Molding with Bruce Dominguez

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The most exciting thing about working in 3D printing is seeing the range of applications people use it for. This week we got a chance to visit our friend Bruce Dominguez at Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, where he’s finishing up his term as Artist in Residence. Bruce’s project “Call to Adventure” is a new look at an old toy, green army soldier figurines, using 3D printing and other modern tooling methods to re-imagine the classic toy. Click read more below to see more of Bruce’s process! Continue reading

User Gallery Update

 

We just added more of your photos to our user submitted prints gallery. Are you interested in sharing your MAKEiT-made 3D prints with the world? Let us know in our user submissions forum!

Thank you to Bruno and David for these submissions!

Bracelets and bangles by David G.

Curious about how our unique wall-mounted 3D printers get installed? Check out this quick illustrative video to see how you can easily build a scalable 3D printer installation in under 1 hour!

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MAKEiT Wall Mount Installation Video

Disrupt It Yourself reviews the MAKEiT Pro-L

Recently Andrew “Distrupt It Yourself” Stott completed an extended test of a pre-production Pro-L test printer, see what he has to say about it here:

“Being a 3D printer with a large build volume, dual extruders, and being very accurate, means that this is a 3D printer that isn’t going to disappoint… I’ve never seen prints this good in my own personal experience, and I’ve always tried to demand the very best out of the 3D printers that I use”

The First Layer: Turntable Pt. 2, Advanced Print Settings

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In Part 1 of the Turntable post, I showed details of how I modeled the turntable feet both for printable threads and for functional steel threads. Getting really exceptional final parts like you see above, requires careful balancing of the design and print settings together. Although it may take a bit longer to setup such precise prints, when you have a project that needs a professional finish it’s worth the effort. This is even more true with projects that require multiples of the same part like this one since you can easily reproduce the part once it’s properly set. So in this followup Part 2 post I’ll go over some of the tricks involved in getting the high quality results you see here.

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