The MX3D: A Robotic 3D Printer

A new robotic-armed 3D printer previews the possibility of large-scale industrial additive manufacturing.

3d printing, robot, metal, IAAC, Holland, gravity, supportOn the heels of its debut in May 2013, the MX3D-resin printer has already evolved from a machine only capable of building in plastic to one that can print in a variety of metals.

Designed by Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) students Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić, the MX3D is a robotic arm actuated 3D printer capable of printing on any surface. Originally designed to produce parts using a fast curing resin, the original MX3D-Resin could print objects with any sweep and curve without the need of additional support structures.

Building on their original design, Petr and Saša have teamed up with the Netherlands’ Joris Laarman Studio to advance their design and create a 3D printer that can build objects using metals that range from steel to copper.

Similar to their original printer, the new machine still features a head that rests at the end of an industrial robotic arm. Rather than using a resin-extruding element, however, the MX3D-Metal uses a fast acting welder to build forms that require no additional support.

Given the machine’s ability to print freestanding structures, the MX3D-Metal can build objects on any inclined surface, including horizontal and inverted walls.

Currently the system’s main drawback is the time required for one layer to cool before the next can be built. If an adequate cooling method could be built into the MX3D-Metal system the machine would be well on its way to emerging from its current “prototype” phase.

While it’s still only capable of producing relatively low-resolution prints the MX3D-Metal is an excellent demonstration of what industrial scale additive manufacturing systems might look like in the near future. As heavy industry begins to invest in 3D printing, I expect systems like the MX3D will become models for the future of industrial production.

Image and Video Courtesy of Joris Laarman