Nov 16, 2017 | By David

Ceramics is one field where 3D printing technology is rapidly expanding its influence in a way that is benefitting all kinds of art and design works and small businesses. We’ve reported before on the work of 3D Potter, a company specializing in the manufacturing of 3D printers for producing ceramic objects. The manufacturer has now joined forces with 3D printing materials and design innovator Emerging Objects to produce its most advanced machine so far, the Potterbot XLS-1 ceramic 3D printer.

Not to be confused with some kind of automated version of the protagonist from J.K Rowling’s popular children’s fantasy series, Potterbot is a range of 3D printers that come with a specially designed extrusion head for clay and other ceramic materials. The Potterbot XLS-1 has the largest build volume of any product in the range, and it is the first commercially available large-scale ceramic 3D printer that uses full-body clay.

Despite having a relatively normal size for a ceramic 3D printer, it can print objects up to 9 feet tall, with diameters also as large as 9 feet. This is possible due to the pioneering 360 degree continuous rotation print functionality. The 3D printer will start off inside where the finished structure will be, and extrude around itself, which allows the printing of objects much larger than the printer itself.

Being able to construct such large objects without needing any extra space for the 3D printer itself could revolutionize the way many ceramics manufacturing projects operate, and the Potterbot XLS-1 should expand the range of design possibilities in a number of other ways, too. Users will be able to print multiple objects within the specified envelope in a sequential mode. For example, they could print a particular vessel starting on the far left side and continue to print these vessels until there is no more space left. This kind of printing process would be ideal for mass customized production.

Both commercial users and hobbyists will be able to make use of the Potterbot XLS-1, which has been designed to carry a container of clay of up to 4 litres, or to be connected to a larger extruder hose that can accommodate up to 250lbs of clay. The large-scale peristaltic pump attachment handles non-stop continuous extrusions with a nozzle size of up to 1 inch. The machine is also compatible with a range of materials besides clay, including polymers and concrete. The extruder head has been cleared for food safety, so forward-thinking catering operations can even make use of the Potterbot XLS-1 to print with food-based materials.

The Potterbot XLS-1 is constructed from aircraft grade 6061 aluminum, utilizing both CNC and welded components for maximum strength and rigidity. The main rail components are IGUS precision guide rails, and their hybrid closed-loop stepper motors have on-board computers with telemetry that can continually update their position for zero error positioning. This design will enable a high level of precision in printing of parts and objects, with no backlash or jittery movements at realistic speeds. The drivers are designed for maximum rigidity with extreme accuracy.

The Potterbot XLS-1 ceramic 3D printer is priced at $13,900.



Posted in 3D Printer



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