Large-scale 3D printing uses additive manufacturing (AM) to create large parts and tools used in the manufacturing process. The Essentium HSE 3D Printer is an industrial-grade AM system capable of printing large parts and tools in any quantity in one piece.
Big tools require big investments. And traditional tools made from metals are often expensive, heavy, and unwieldy.
The molds used to make them are also expensive and require long lead times to produce a final design with lengthy iteration cycles. Once approved, the mold is precisely machined to eliminate defects in the molded parts. Once complete, molds are difficult to change and costly to store.
Typically, the larger the mold, the more expensive it is to make and modify; therefore, many suppliers will divide large tools into several smaller components, each of which must then be finished and assembled into the final tool.
Large-Scale 3D Printing Solution: High Speed Extrusion
AM offers labor- and cost-saving alternatives to traditional mold-making processes. 3D printing yields faster time to final tool design. Modifications to a prototype for functional or ergonomic improvement can be made in just a few hours or overnight as opposed to days or weeks.
AM is capable of printing end-use parts and tools with complex geometries in a single piece using lightweight materials for easier handling and worker safety. Once designed, there are no minimums — print one or one hundred pieces for only the cost of filament.
The issue with AM has been that most 3D printers do not offer the combination of size and speed required to create large tools quickly — until today.
Essentium’s High Speed Extrusion (HSE) technology makes large-scale 3D printing possible through the combination of a large build volume, the fastest extrusion speeds, increased strength, reduced post-processing time, and now, true independent dual head extrusion (IDEX) technology in which each head is fully autonomous on the X and Y axes.
- Build Volume. Large alignment jigs, assembly cradles, robotic grippers, and clamps are used to securely guide large subassemblies into position for precise attachment, or to hold panels of unfinished raw materials in a zero-tolerance position for chemical etching, powder coating, electroplating, cutting, or painting without marking or marring the part. The Essentium HSE 3D Printer offers a build area measuring 690 x 500 x 600 mm (WxDxH), large enough to print more than 85% of all global jigs and fixtures in one piece.
- Unmatched Speed. The Essentium HSE 3D Printer is five to 15 times faster than any other extrusion printer on the market. Speed is especially critical when printing large parts to avoid delamination, an effect in which a part fractures into horizontal layers and becomes brittle due to insufficient filament bonding. Delamination can occur when the topmost filament layer cools before the next layer is applied. The Essentium HSE 3D Printer deposits filament at speeds up to 500 mm per second, giving it the ability to “close the loop” on each layer fast enough to print large 3D printed parts without suffering this potential defect.
- Increased Strength. Parts and tools printed in one seamless piece benefit from increased strength. The absence of physical joints removes stress points. Design elements such as protrusions or posts to hold a part in position or connect halves of a mold are stronger as they are organically part of the structure rather than glued into place.
- Reduced Post-Processing Time and Effort. Parts printed in a single piece have no seams, need no assembly, and require less finishing, saving hours of manual labor. When multi-part tools are unavoidable, the large build area of the Essentium HSE 3D Printer allows designers to consolidate components into fewer pieces, minimizing post-processing and multi-part assembly tasks.
- Independent Dual Extrusion. The HSE 280i HT 3D Printer employs two fully autonomous print heads, enabling sophisticated workflows such as Multi-Process Mode to print one-piece tools with two distinct filament types (e.g., flexible and rigid, or ESD-safe and non-ESD) simultaneously.
Only Essentium offers the build volume, speed, and versatility to enable the large-scale 3D printing of parts and tools — even the molds themselves — on-site. Request a quote to learn how the HSE 3D Printer can be used to tackle the biggest jobs on your factory floor.