Here’s something new.
3D printers have a build area that is measured along the X, Y and Z axes. So far, personal and commercial 3D printers have rather limited build areas, for all the mechanical and cost reasons you’d expect. The X and Y axes are limited by the footprint size of the 3D printer someone wants to build — you don’t really want to sell 3D printers the size of a minivan, for example. But the Z axis is limited by the height of the printer. If you want to build a 20 foot tall model, you’ll need a 20 foot+ tall 3D printer, as the printer bed or printhead moves up or down in that direction.
But Voxeljet Technology GmbH, out of Germany, has come up with a novel idea. They were thinking out of the box, quite literally, when they came up with their 3D printer concept called the Voxeljet Concept.
This 3D printer can print continuously along one of the axes, without stopping, for a length as long as you wish. WHAT! That’s right, it prints such long/tall (however you want to call it) objects that it comes with an attached conveyor belt to handle it all. You’re blown away, trying to figure this out, so let’s just get to the video right away:
Awesome isn’t it? The build size is 800mm x 500mm by “infinity”! The secret sauce is that the Voxeljet Concept prints the model right on the conveyor belt, with a printhead that sits at about a 35 degree angle. The printer does not run out of raw material since the bed of the material sits above where the models are made and can be restocked as needed.
Here are some features:
- First continuously working 3D printer
- Conventional 3D printing process: Selective bonding of powder layers by a high-performance print head
- Build space: 800 mm x 500 mm x “infinity”
- High re-use rate of unprinted particle material
- Layer thicknesses from 150 µm to 400 µm
- High-defintion voxeljet print head with a resolution of 600 dpi
- Simultaneous building and unpacking without interrupting the operation
- Printing process on a level tilted to the horizontal
- Horizontal belt conveyor
And here’s Voxeljet’s comments on their concept printer:
Continuous 3D-Printing Technology represents a new dimension in the manufacturing of moulds and models without tools. With its big advantages compared to conventional standard-3D-printers VX concept is a pioneer for a whole new generation of machines. The length of the moulds is virtually unlimited with this type of system as there is no restriction to the length of the belt conveyor. The usable build length is only limited by the manageability of the moulds. Furthermore, the tilt of the print level enables the print head to take far less time for positioning movements, which improves the print speed. Apart from the technological highlights, users will be pleased with the investment and operating costs because they are lower than those of conventional systems. With the continuous printing system, there is no need for a build container or separate unpacking station, which has a positive effect on the purchase costs. The printer also scores points with its high re-use rate for the unprinted particle material, which is returned straight to the build zone from the unpacking area. Consequently, the machine requires smaller filling quantities and incurs lower set-up costs.
The Voxeljet Concept is only a working concept right now, so you cannot get your hands on it yet. It will be interesting to see if it makes it to production, and then fascinating to see what people will make with it.