Jan 26, 2016 | By Kira
3D printing startup Tractus 3D has built a large-format, 3.5-meter tall 3D printer that can be customized for various industry-specific needs, including being modified to reach up to 450°C for 3D printing PEEK for medical and even aerospace needs. The T3500 will be showcased at the 3D Medical Expo, being held at the MECC in Maastricht from January 26-27, in order to demonstrate the opportunities and developments that 3D printing has to offer in the medical and dental markets.
Two of the most important trends in 3D printing right now are large-format 3D printing, evidenced by the growing number of construction 3D printers, and medical 3D printing applications, including life-saving 3D printed implants, 3D medical models, and 3D printed prosthetics. Daniël van Mourik, founder of Netherlands-based Tractus 3D, believes in making high quality, easy-to-use FDM 3D printers, and saw an opportunity to combine the two.
“We are proud that we can show our 3.5 meter printer in Maastricht to the public,” said Mourik. “The 3D printer is unique in its size, speed, resolution and accuracy. It can 3D print objects up to 2m high and with a diameter of 1m, such as lifelike skeletons and bones of humans and animals.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the T3500 3D printer, named after its impressive physical height, is the fact that it can easily be adapted for specific industry needs. Working with a partner in the medical industry, Tractus 3D was able to modify the standard T3500 model to reach temperatures over 400°C in order to 3D print PEEK (polyetheretherketone), an engineering thermoplastic that is biocompatible, wear and abrasion resistant, and chemically inert, whose current applications include medical implants, electronic gears, aerospace parts and automotive engineering.
The 3.5 meter-tall T3500 3D printer on display at MECC in Maastricht
When it comes to modifying 3D printers for these kinds of specific, high-performance materials, Mourik has extremely high standards, and doesn’t take the job lightly. “I think that’s one of the biggest problems in the 3D printer world, is that there are a lot of companies making good quality, FDM 3D printers…but they don’t know a lot about the materials they are working with. I think knowing about the materials you are printing is just as important—maybe even more important than the machine itself,” he told 3Ders.org.
In addition to being able to 3D print with PEEK, the T3500 can reach resolutions of 3 microns, and, depending on the material being used (the standard model is compatible with nearly any polymer-based 3D printing filament out there), can 3D print up to 400mm per second. A second version of the T3500, which the company hopes to bring to market by March 2016, is expected to reach printing speeds of 700-1,200mm per second or more.
Although the 3D Medical Expo has given Tractus 3D the opportunity to showcase its large-format 3D printer’s potential medical applications, the T3500 is in fact already commercially available, and is currently being used by companies in the fashion and transportation industries.
Hans Boodt, one of the largest mannequin manufacturers in the world, has purchased a T3500 to 3D print high-quality, life-size mannequins, dramatically reducing the costs, transportation needs, and production times required when compared to traditional process, in a clay mould made would be made India and then shipped back to Europe for production. Another client of Tractus 3D has used the T3500 large-format 3D printer to 3D print prototypes of seats for railcars.
Mourik believes that these are just a few of the many possible applications that large-format 3D printers have to offer, and is hoping to prove it this week with the T3500.
Tractus 3D currently manufactures a range of 3D printers, 3D printer kits, add-ons and accessories, with its three existing FDM 3D printers ranging in build volume from 22cm to 60cm, however the T3500, with a 3D printing height of 2.2 meters, marks a dramatic leap in the startup’s offerings. The starting price for the standard T3500 3D printer model will be roughly €25,000, with the option to customize it with a variety of add-ons and modifications.
Posted in 3D Printer
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