Voxeljet’s arrival near Detroit most surely did not go unnoticed early last year, with a 50,000-square-foot facility opening in Canton, allowing many in the area to hope for a bright economical boost in in a state now famous for its financial struggles. And whether or not their presence has helped the area is still an unknown quotient, but voxeljet of America, Inc. has most certainly added to the industrial 3D printing manufacturer’s revenues as well as kept the momentum moving impressively forward regarding their entry into the North American commercial market.
The word is that the Canton service center will be operating at the same capacity as voxeljet’s Friedberg facility, and if that’s not true already, their latest developments should push that plan into action with the stateside arrival of the VX4000, which holds the title as the world’s largest industrial 3D printer—allowing the Motor City area now to boast further about exciting happenings via the high-tech manufacturer.
The VX4000 will be a focus in the Canton service center as they roll out on-demand parts and more. This printer has so many exciting features that it’s hard to know where to start. Speed and user-friendliness are a good place to begin, however, for this huge machine capable of production of sand molds on any level—and continuous production of them. From large individual molds to small series parts, cost-effective production is promised to their long list of clientele in the automotive, aviation and aerospace, film and entertainment, art and architecture, engineering, and consumer product end markets.
Featuring a build space of 4,000 x 2,000 x 1,000 mm, the largest industrial printer in the world also ensures productivity and flexibility on the same grand level. Both build speed and build volume can be adjusted, convenient during such processes as building often required stable side walls. High volume output is a key benefit, obviously, with resolutions of 300 dpi possible. There is, quite simply, no other industrial machine like this—and the company itself compares the massive build space of their machine to that of a VW Golf vehicle—just to give one an idea.
“The market for cast parts in the US has always focused on size. With the VX4000, we not only produce the largest sand molds in the world, but can also combine these with smaller mold components,” said David Tait, Managing Director of voxeljet America, as he commented on the expanded capacities of the voxeljet equipment fleet and range of services in the US. “The resulting flexibility provides for rapid delivery times and cost-efficient production.”
The VX4000 benefits the foundry industry—made up of factories traditionally responsible for metal castings or molds—in particular. They are a major consumer of voxeljet’s services, now able to see manufacturing of items like large turbines and rotors being printed, with all the rewards of the new technology, from speed in production to much greater affordability—not to mention virtually unlimited customization options for any part or design, with those of large volume in mind. Any company involved in casting and molds will find benefit in this technology, however, as it is not exclusive to the foundry industry only.
Another major benefit of the large-scale printer to be enjoyed is layer building. With this method, the print head is actually raised as each layer is applied. This allows the VX4000 to bear the weight of the building platform, which is substantial—and it can also be expediently replaced with a rail. The voxeljet team points out that with this, nearly permanent printing is offered.
Those outside of the highly industrial arena may be quite curious about the element of sand as a primarily material—quartz sand to be specific—which is bound together with a special agent. The molds are fabricated from CAD data, offering detail and precision, not to mention post-processing ease as the molds just require unpacking and dusting off. This is a process growing in demand, along with that for plastic models. The US is currently the largest growth market for 3D printing, and that is only expected to expand.
“We decided to place our largest printing system in the US in order to service growing demand in the US market directly on location. Our objective is to strengthen our most important growth market with a diversified portfolio of machines, materials and processes,” said Rudolf Franz, COO of voxeljet AG, in regards to the US market and its obvious potential. “Indirect beneficiaries of this high-end technology are the automotive industry, the special machine building sector and the spare parts industry in particular.”
- Economical production is allowed as sand molds and cores are printed all in one piece.
- Nearly unlimited geometries and even undercuts can be implemented.
- Precise sand molds and cores with high surface quality can be attained, with 300 µm thin quartz sand layers.
- Familiar features are offered with quartz sand and furan resin with series-comparable mold and casting properties.
- The process is suitable for sand-casting all castable metals, such as aluminum, brass, magnesium, iron and steel casting as well as all common alloys.
- 3D printed cores can be combined with traditional sand molds, and vice versa.
- Simple core removal is allowed as a low binder content means that the behavior during outgassing and core removal is similar to traditional methods.
- Express delivery is available in only three working days from the service center.
Large companies with complex needs are able to pinpoint numerous reasons to use 3D printing over traditional methods, noting the general elimination of tool costs and the ability to print in low volume more efficiently. Shorter times for production and less labor in post processing all add up to a much more attractive scenario over conventional techniques, along with the ability to fabricate prototypes rapidly.
Voxeljet is a leading manufacturer of large-format and fast 3D printing systems. As we were glad to report, they also recently received the coveted ‘Component of the Year’ flagship award from the British Cast Metals Federation (CMF) as part of a joint project.
See the video below for a more in-depth look at how the VX4000 operates and offers so many industrial benefits. What are your thoughts on a 3D printing service center in Michigan? Discuss in the VX4000 3D Printer Comes to Canton forum over at 3DPB.com.