A view on the complete setup, with a 14kg 3mm PLA spool.

A view on the complete setup, with a 14kg 3mm PLA spool.

3D printing is limited. It is limited by the materials that are available, by the size of the build platform, and by the size of the nozzles from which the material is extruded. For one German company, called Artis Engineering, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

artis1Artis Engineering, a company established back in 1994, initially started out as a classic cabinetry firm, but has since evolved into a 30 person company that specializes in engineering and construction. Recently, members of the team at Artis Engineering began toying with the idea of 3D printing. They currently have a machine called the KUKA Quantec, which is a huge CNC machine capable of doing things your typical CNC machine would only dream of. The current model features a huge build envelope of 150 cubic meters (13 x 4 x 3.5 meters), using a 7-axis system + tool changer and capable of milling, sanding, polishing, hot wire cutting, as well as some additional applications which now include…you guessed it…3D printing.

Using this huge industrial robot, Artis Engineering has hopes of one day soon being able to 3D print objects as large as 100 cubic meters in size.

Ramps 1.4 LCD control panel, used for temperature & speed settings

Ramps 1.4 LCD control panel, used for temperature & speed settings

“For the moment this is still pretty experimental, and we don’t want to share 100% of our data [just yet],” explained Simon Lullin of Artis Engineering to 3DPrint.com. “We actually use Ramps 1.4 hooked on an Arduino 2560 to control the extruder & nozzle. The nozzle has 2x40w heat cartridges, and two 100k resistors. It is actually a E3D v6 modified nozzle. This allows us to print at high speeds, with a .5mm , 1 mm and 2.5mm nozzles avoiding jamming and other problems.”

This is just the beginning for Lullin and team, though. Their goal of enabling this 3D printing robot to 3D print objects as large as 100 cubic meters means that an entire car could be printed in one shot. This isn’t all though, as Lullin explains:

“Our next goal is to perfectly synchronize the robot movements with the extruder (mainly the speed), which will require a mountain of new hardware, since we are already to the limits in terms of ‘extensions’ quantity. This is the equivalent of adding an 8th axis to our robot. This will be done in the upcoming months.”

The custom made nozzle, used with a E3D heat sink (heat break)

The custom made nozzle, used with a E3D heat sink (heat break)

One challenge that they will face is warping of these large prints. To counteract any potential warping issues, Artis Engineering plans to create a huge heated bed which is constructed with simple power resistors and “loads” of aluminum.

It should be interesting to follow as Artis Engineering continues to develop this potentially groundbreaking 3D printer. Because it utilizes a robotic arm, there are many unique possibilities for this machine.

What do you think about the potential a 3D printer like this could have? Will it lead to the 3D printing of higher quality larger objects in the near future? If Artis Engineering has any say, the answer will be an unequivocal “yes.” Discuss in the Huge Industrial Robot 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of this 3D printer in action below:

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