Author Archives: Makeit, Inc.

automotive 3d printed part

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.

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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Fabbaloo on the MAKEiT Pro-L Launch

Fabbaloo is a web magazine and blog focused on the news and developments in desktop and industrial 3D printing. We first ran into them when displaying our original MAKEiT Pro model printers at an expo almost two years ago. Since then we’ve been watching their pages diligently, and recently they picked up on the launch of our new Pro-L 3D printer. Here’s a bit of what they had to say:

When I first encountered MAKEiT, I wasn’t sure what to make of their machine until I looked very closely. While the machine appeared to be yet another basic 3D printer, this one included a number of features that transform what might otherwise be a basic 3D printer into a true industrial production machine.

Now they’ve released the Pro-L, an improved version of the original machine. And the changes are more than just a rather shiny exterior, which actually looks pretty good.

The new machine still includes the capability of producing multiple copies of an object during the same print run, sometimes able to double print speeds by doing so. Among the other new features are:

  • New control board
  • More expansion capability
  • Dual-phase bed heater
  • Redesigned print head with dual-fan cooling system

You can see the rest of Fabbaloo’s coverage here.

Aaron Hamby from CM3D – MAKEiT Printers for Professional Services

Aaron Hamby is the founder of Creative Manufacturing, a California based manufacturing services firm. Aaron made 3D printing a part of his business model a few years ago, in addition to other more traditional manufacturing services. Today it has grown into a core money-earner for CM3D, and that’s due in part to utilizing MAKEiT’s 3D printers excellently suited for manufacturing. Hear what Aaron has to say in his honest opinion about how MAKEiT works for his business and why our printers are so effective for his needs.

 

High resolution 3D printed replacement parts

The First Layer: Turntable Pt. 1, Modeling for Threads

An old record turntable in need of some loveRecently a friend sent this lovely turntable across my desk looking for a bit of TLC. Yes, it is a little worse for wear, but except a couple missing parts it all still works. One of those missing parts is an adjustable foot for leveling the table, while the three remaining feet had all been damaged and were beginning to fall apart; look closely at the foot that’s removed in the above photo and you can find an epoxy seam where it was repaired once before. Below you can see my final part with steel bolt for threading next to the fully 3D printed prototype:

High resolution 3D printed replacement parts

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24 3D printed parts together on one bed

The First Layer: Batch Printing Basics

 

One of the absolute best features of MAKEiT printers is the ability to produce volumes of parts quickly through batch duplication. When combined with a proper batch setup, duplication printing is a powerful way to significantly reduce your production time. Like many other things in life it’s best to start simple and build to complexity, so I’ll first go over how to get started with simple duplication and move into more advanced setup for large batches after. The example part I’m using is a cable guide intended to work with the wall mount standards we use to hang the printers.

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Makeit Pro-L 3D printer

MAKEiT Pro-L: The Printed Parts

 

The all-new MAKEiT Pro-L is here. The Pro-L incorporates multitudes of improvements beyond the original MAKEiT Pro, and represents what we believe to be the first desktop-format 3D printer purely focused and suited to the demands of manufacturing and professional services. On the surface the stunning new finish and design theme are immediately apparent, but the changes continue beneath with a completely new control board, more expansion capability, dual-phase bed heater, redesigned print head with dual-fan cooling system, and many other component and material improvements.

Behind our claim of manufacturing-ready capability is the truth of our own manufacturing. While many printer companies make components for their own machines, most wouldn’t dare to post photos so close up as these. The unique capability of a MAKEiT printer is made apparent when you examine the function and quality behind the printed parts on the new Pro-L.

Makeit Pro L 3D printer print head

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3D printed shift knob

The First Layer: 3D Printed Shift Knob Wood Finishing Technique

 

In part 2 of 2 from the 3D printed shift knob project, I’ll go over the basics of how to achieve this kind of beautiful wood-like finish effect and a simple way to get inlaid lettering. I have tried this process with a few brands of wood type filaments, and so far I have found Hatchbox’s variation to be quite reliable and to accept the stain very evenly. I’ve found that with most fill-type materials, changing the nozzle out from the standard 0.4mm up to a 0.5 or 0.6mm diameter helps reliability considerably. You can see below how rough the part is coming straight off the printer, but this was done intentionally to serve part of the finishing process.

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3D Printed Shift Knob for Mini Cooper

The First Layer: 3D Printed Shift Knob with Encapsulated Hardware

Hello readers and MAKEiT owners,  and welcome to to the first installment of The First Layer, MAKEiT’s blog section devoted to advanced printing and design-for-print techniques. From the desk of our design director Russell Singer, The First Layer will be your new source for tips and techniques to take your 3D printing ability further.

In today’s post I’m revisiting a project I completed a few weeks back: creating a realistic wood finish for the manual transmission shift knob of my Mini Cooper. Because the shift knob is a regular point of tactile interaction it was important to achieve not only a high quality finish that would appear as wood, but also a comfortable form with enjoyable tactile feedback and functional usability. In this first post I’ll focus on the CAD considerations and the printing process, follow along on the second post for the full finishing technique to achieve the beautiful effect shown below.

3D Printed Shift Knob for Mini Cooper

Aside from preferences on shift knob weight and profile, the only real functional consideration is getting a snug secure fit on the shifter shaft. After one attempt with a simpler friction-fit design, I found the hot daytime temperatures in Southern California would cause enough size distortion to loosen the knob even though it might be very stuck in place in cooler temperatures. I revised the design to work with set screws and some hex nuts that are enclosed into the print, as shown below:

cutawayView

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