Apr 26, 2016 | By Tess

German 3D printer company voxeljet, which specializes in the development of industrial additive manufacturing systems, has recently expanded its presence in North America by launching operations of the largest 3D printing system, the VX4000 3D printer. The new large-scale 3D printing system will be operating at voxeljet’s Michigan location, and effectively showcases the German company’s growing importance in the U.S. additive manufacturing market.

The VX4000, which is ideal for creating large scale sand molds, possesses a build volume capacity of 4000 mm x 2000 mm x 1000 mm (reportedly about the size of a Volkswagen Golf car). The massive 3D printing system could have potential benefits to the American foundry industry by offering a more time and cost efficient way of creating large-scale molds, for instance for rotors or turbines.

“The market for cast parts in the US has always focused on size,” explains David Tait, Managing Director of voxeljet America. “With the VX4000, we not only produce the largest sand molds in the world, but can also combine these with smaller mold components. The resulting flexibility provides for rapid delivery times and cost-efficient production.”

As a press release by the company states, sand molds manufactured using the VX4000 3D printing system offer a number of advantages over ones made with traditional manufacturing processes. For instance, the molds can be printed without the necessity for complex tool production, effectively cutting down on costs, they can be manufactured and shipped in only a few days, and can be designed with complex geometries and structures, even including undercuts. Additionally, molds made with the VX4000 possess a high surface quality, as they are made up of sand quartz layers as thin as 300 µm (about the thickness of three human hairs). The sand molds, which can be used with all castable metals, can be easily removed from the cast, as they possess a low binder content.

The machine, which boasts an easy operating system, is also capable of printing stable side walls, which according the company, “means that the size of the build space can be adjusted as needed.” In terms of the layer building method, rather than have a moveable building platform, the print head is incrementally raised with every layer, which allows for heavy prints to be made, as well as for the easy removal of the building platform.

Rudolf Franz, COO of voxeljet AG, talks about the motivation behind expanding more into the US market saying, “We decided to place our largest printing system in the US in order to service growing demand in the US market directly on location. Our objective is to strengthen our most important growth market with a diversified portfolio of machines, materials and processes.”

In fact, within the US, the demand for 3D printed sand casting and plastic molds has increased significantly, as it offers manufacturers a more cost-effective way to manufacture small batch numbers of complexly designed parts.

According to the company, the launch of the VX4000 3D printing system in Michigan could have benefits for not only the foundry industry, but a wide range of other sectors, such as the automotive industry, the special machine building industry, and the spare parts industry.

To learn more about voxeljet and their achievements, read about their “Component of the Year” award which they received earlier this year.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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