China seems to be one of the nations who are establishing themselves at the forefront of 3D printing innovation. Last month, it was reported that China has begun 3D printing full sized homes, and now there is news of something that may be even more incredible.
After 3 1/2 years of research and development, Sanya Industrial Innovation Design Center, in Sanya, China, has developed a 3D printer that, according to the company, is the largest of its kind. It also touts the ability to print in multiple and extremely affordable materials, print at high speeds, and in full color. The printer, weighs an incredible 15 tons and measures 6 X 3.5 X 3.5 meters in size (19’8″ X 11’6″ X 11’6″). This huge 3D printer can print in full color, and in many different materials.
This new 3D printer is capable of printing objects as large as 3.8 × 2.4 × 1.8 meters (approximately 12’6″ X 7’10” X 5’11”) in size.
Chen Min Qiao (translated) of Sanya Industrial Innovation Design Center, explained that these 3D printers are capable of printing large objects such as cars, boats, etc. By looking at the measurements of the build envelope, without a doubt it could print objects this size. Ming Qiao also explained that this new printer will have great benefits for a variety of applications including tourism, culture, exhibition models, scientific research, souvenirs, art furniture, garden rockery, home accessories and much more.
While it is not completely clear exactly what kind of technology drives this machine, from an outsiders point of view, it appears to work similarly to a traditional fused desposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer. Mr. Long Sihai, who is the General Manager of Sanya Industrial Innovation Design Center says that it can print using resins, metals, and other materials. As long as the material has a melting point below 450℃, it should work. So this would seems to differ from what we are used to seeing from traditional FDM printers, which normally can only print with rolls or sticks of solid material ‘filament’.
3D printer filament can be quite pricy, thus printing objects the size of an SUV probably wouldn’t be all that feasible, using traditional FDM technology. That is exactly where this new 3D printer hopes to make progress.
“You can print using a melting point below 450 degrees celsius, with materials in powder format as well as granular goods,” explained Deng Zhenhai (representative for Sanya Industrial Innovation Design Center) to reporters, prior to being translated to English.
He also explained that this new technology allows them to break the ‘bottleneck’ of traditional 3D printing materials (spools of filament), and that this will greatly reduce the costs of materials used to print objects, thus allowing 3D printing to spread to more people. Materials for this printer are expected to be as low as 10 Yuan per KG ($1.60/KG) which is about 30 times cheaper than current polymer based 3D printer filament.
As for print speed, it can print approximately 12 centimeters in height per hour, for hallow objects with a diameter of a little less than 1 meter. This is quite impressive, when compared to traditional FDM technlogy.
Zhenhai also explained that this is the first large scale 3D color printer. There are currenlty 3D printers that can print in a variety of colors, but they are all of the smaller variety.
These new 3D printers will begin selling next month, and will be priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. What do you think? Is this new innovation in China going to help 3D printing progress on a larger and more massive scale? Discuss these new 3D printers in the ‘New Chinese 3D Printer’ discussion thread on 3DPB.com.