Jul 4, 2016 | By Alec

Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016 has just closed its Amsterdam doors, but featured a wide range of interesting workshops, speakers and perspectives on the 3D printing future. 3D printer manufacturers were of course also present in force, which highlighted a remarkable trend: FDM 3D printers are no longer confined to desktops. Very large 3D printers, tall enough to 3D print complete pieces of furniture, architectural models or even full-sized 3D selfies, are becoming more and more common. 3ders.org looked at some of the biggest machines at Additive Manufacturing Europe.

Double presence for Builder’s Extreme 2000 3D printer

Let’s start with the 3D printer that was present twice, and brought by different companies: Builder’s Extreme 2000 3D printer. Until recently, it was the tallest FDM 3D printer that was commercially available, with a massive build volume of 700x700x1820 mm. Featuring an integrated heated bed, two nozzles and color-mixing options, it’s a very appealing machine that is perfect for very large 3D prints, as the model of the Empire State Building below illustrates.

Bottom: Pro1 filament.

But Builder wasn’t the only company who showcased this 3D printer, as filament specialists InnoFil also brought one to showcase their excellent new InnoFil Pro1 filament. “A 3D print job that would otherwise take 75 hours on a Builder, will take just 40 hours using Pro1,” Roger Sijlbing, Sales Manager of InnoFil revealed. The newly available filament is actually a reinforced PLA compound that makes it suitable for engineering-grade 3D printing. “It’s stronger than ABS, has excellent bending properties, and it’s faster to print. We always say, do you want to print fast, or strong?”. Large scale 3D printing could become more appealing than ever.

BigRep One 3D printer: the future of 3D printing farms?

Much less tall, but no less impressive, is the BigRep One 3D printer by the German company of the same name. Remarkably, they brought three 3D printers with them to Amsterdam, each with a 1 x 1 x 1 meter build size. All big enough to 3D print chairs, lamp shades and obviously lots of large scale prototypes. The chair itself took about twelve hours to 3D print with a 1mm nozzle, or about three hours with a 2mm nozzle. “Our customers are mainly using it for molding and prototyping. Many print positives to make large molds that can be used for other production techniques,” a company spokeswoman said.

But as she went on to argue, the BigRep’s biggest selling point is its price. “When you look at similar 3D printers of this size, you quickly reach several hundred thousand euros or more. Our 3D printer starts at €50,000, so it’s affordable and offers smaller companies the opportunity to go into large scale 3D printing,” she said. The 3D printers are already available, and BigRep is currently testing various 3D printable materials with an eye on professional prototyping such as including PLA-tech, which is more resistant than regular PLA, as well as various flexible and high resistant research materials.

But according to founder René Gurka, the size is not most important aspect of the BigRep; its operating system is. As he revealed, the real future of 3D printing is in 3D printing farms where multiple large scale models operate in unison and are maintained by a single system. “The software automatically distributes the print jobs, but can also cut a large model into separate pieces. It enables us to 3D print an 8 meter long dinosaur model in several machines.” This innovation could become a reality within several years, he added.

LeapFrog takes to skies with the XceL 3D printer

Even taller than the Builder is the LeapFrog XceL 3D printer, which has now been available for one month. It features a gargantuan build volume of 530 x 500 x 2300 mm – a magnitude that can barely be contained in a single photo. Costing just €25,000, it’s also very accessible for professional companies and has some very attractive features. A fully enclosed environment ensures a constant temperature and minimal warping, while it is run by a new software platform that optimizes workflow and is remotely controlled through Wi-Fi. According to the company, the simplicity of its software makes it easy to see how much material the printer has left and how much time is left on a single print job, while pause and resume functions can be activated remotely.

And that is certainly necessary, as the XceL can go through filament like you would not believe. “It uses a 20kg filament spool right now, but the XceL features a filament recognition system that warns users when to replace the spool. It depends on your infill obviously, but if you make a full-sized print you can easily use more than one spool,” a spokesperson said. “We can deliver even bigger spools, but 20kg is quite portable.” But the real question is: can you 3D print a full-sized person? “We actually have one at the office,” they revealed. The XceL 3D printer is now available.

Update: Here is the photo of full sized person 3D print provided by Leapfrog:


Economic 3D printing on a large scale with the Delta Wasp 3 MT 3D printer

But perhaps the most remarkable of all the large scale 3D printers on display in Amsterdam was the Delta Wasp 3 MT 3D printer by Italian 3D printing pioneers WASP. Not only is it the most flexible – being able to 3D print concrete, clay and plastics, and act as a CNC mill – it’s also the most economical. While we rely on expensive pre-made filament, the Italian machine simply 3D prints the low-cost plastic pellets that filament is made of. It can save up to $30 per kilo.

But the Delta Wasp 3 MT is more than just economical, it’s also remarkably accurate for a concrete and clay 3D printer. 3D printing at a layer resolution 0.5 mm and on a cylindrical build space of 100 x 100 cm, it can 3D print anything from concrete or clay parts for homes, or even solid plastic furniture in a single part. “A chair needs anywhere from 8 to 15 hours to 3D print, depending on the design,” WASP engineer Marcel Crisan says. “We want to enable makers to 3D print furniture for homes.” And with a milling toolhead, it could be a fantastic tool for any construction site. This Delta Wasp 3 MT 3D printer was unveiled two months ago, and is now available.

But of course WASP is mostly known for their even bigger concrete 3D printing innovations, for which they developed the 12 meter tall BigDelta 3D printer. That gargantuan model is also springing into action, but not in Amsterdam. As Crisan revealed, they have just begun work on a 3D printed clay and fiber house, which they are building near their Italian headquarters in the Bologna region. “It will be six meters tall, and we eventually want to build a whole village and if everything goes right, we want to build homes for the poor all around the world. Our dream is saving the world,” Crisan says.

What’s more, WASP believes they are in an excellent position when it comes to home 3D printing. “All the others are only working in concrete, and that’s not the only material you need for homes,” they say. While no deadlines are in sight, WASP is dreaming big.



Posted in 3D Printer



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 7/4/2016 2:38:28 PM:

Impressive ! I wish there were more built parts and build time data.

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