Large Scale Polymer Printers Are On the Way
Kyle Maxey posted on February 19, 2014 |

3D printing, automotive, aerospace, auto, size, speed, meter, printerIn an announcement made Monday, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) has stated it will partner with Ohio’s Cincinnati Inc. to create large-scale 3D printers that are cheaper and faster than models currently on the market.

According to Thom Mason, Director of the ORNL, the new systems could be a “game-changer” for both the automotive and aerospace industries, both of which have shown increased interest in additive manufacturing technology.

To manufacture this new generation of large AM machines ORNL has enlisted Cincinnati Inc., a manufacturer of high quality machining tools. With their extensive knowledge of the automotive industry and impressive tooling know-how the Harrison, Ohio-based Company is a perfect fit for the project.

As part of the ORNL plan, Cincinnati Inc. will transport many of its advanced tools to the Lab’s Tennessee facilities where they will be transformed into a huge 3D printer prototype that will act as a foundation for the project’s final design. Once complete the collaboration plans to open its doors to industry agents who’d like to view the system’s capabilities and decide whether it’s right for their product design process.

While many details have yet to be ironed out, the ORNL printer aims to create parts that are greater than a cubic meter in size at speeds that put current machines to shame. Given the ORNL’s history of developing AM systems, it’s a safe bet that the new machine will also be able to produce parts with fairly high-resolutions – lending them greater tolerance and value in mechanical design.

If the joint venture between the ORNL and Cincinnati Inc. can produce a working, large scale machine it’ll further demonstrate that AM technology isn’t just a passing fad, but a real world manufacturing solution. Add to its scale a reasonable price and the ability to create products in durable materials and you might just have the game-changer Mr. Mason is after.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

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