Over the past several months we have seen many extremely large 3D printers come to market. This stems from the desire to print objects larger than what typical FDM 3D printers can handle. After all, what fun is a 3D printer when you are limited to printing only smaller objects? With the release of these larger 3D printers, however, comes the problem of finding a place to store that printer. Most people don’t have an entire room in their house that they can designate as their 3D printing room, nor the garage space to store a 3D printer in. So what could be done to solve this size dilemma?
Back in June, 3Dprint.com reported on a patent that MakerBot had filed, in order to 3D print objects larger than the build volume of a 3D printer. Today, we learned about an Indian company, CCTech, that has launched a free service to do the same.
The software, called 3DPrintTech 2.0 is a CAD plugin that is compatible with Autodesk Inventor 2014, AutoCAD 2014, and SolidWorks 2014. This software works by dividing the designs of large objects into smaller connectable pieces, which connect to each other via special 3D printed connectors. These connectors can be customized by the user in several ways, including radius size, distance between connectors, and the length/taper angle of each connector.
3DPrintTech, using a feature called ‘3D Packing’, will then take all of these smaller objects and automatically pack them into one print batch that will fit onto your 3D printers build platform (could be more than one for very large objects). “It creates the batch of 3D Printings from a collection of many small components,” explained the company. “In our benchmarking, we found that for many cases our 3D Packing helped to reduce the 3D Printing batches from 10 to 1. This is definitely going to help makers print more objects in less time and with less money.”
By allowing you to print one large object on your smaller 3D printer, and by breaking it down in a way that allows you to fit as many pieces as possible on your 3D printer’s bed, this should certainly save both money and time, like the company claims. It should be interesting to see how well the connectors work, and if any sort of adhesive is needed.
“3DPrintTech should help [the] maker improve productivity by a great degree,” explained Sandip Jadhav, Co-Founder & CEO, CCTech. It will also help makers push [the] envelope by making larger 3D objects. In [the] future we [will] provide more choices of connectors, packing types, and more CAD platforms.”
It will be intriguing to see it MakerBot tries to uphold their patent filing, as this seems to be a very similar type of software. Many still question whether MakerBot should really own the patent rights in the first place, since other individuals have done this in the past.