It’s an enormous 3D printer which can create an object the size of a phone booth. With a build volume of 1800 x 1000 x 700 mm, the ExOne S-Max printer can, within 24 hours, produce parts of complex shapes and large volumes.
Now 3Dealise is using the S-Max to produce molds for concrete which ultimately receive a special treatment that allows the parts to be easily separated. That’s important as architects have traditionally been constrained by concrete building processes which force them to cast their ideas in flat, angular shapes. Industrial 3D printing and 3D engineering company 3Dealise, together with concrete construction company Bruil, has created a method which gives architects ‘freedom of design’ using 3D printing.
From their locations in the UK and the Netherlands, 3Dealise applies innovative technologies like 3D printing and scanning to design, engineer and produce solutions for client in the foundry,automotive and heavy equipment industries.
Once the molds are complete, Bruil pours them full of concrete from a range of material options like fiber-reinforced formulations before removing the molds with pressurized water once the concrete is properly set and cured.
The sand printing process allows for highly accurate and repeatable parts to be created in a ‘near net shape’ through the casting process. The molds can also be use for large metal castings.
“This new technology is important for two reasons: First, it enables a world of new possibilities for architects: irregularly curved surfaces, lightweight half-open mesh or honeycomb structures, elements ornamented like 17th century craftwork,” says Roland Stapper, the CEO of 3Dealise. “No longer restrained by technical limitations, the architect’s power of imagination is the new frontier.”
And the second part of the equation is that the objects which result are not simply decorative.
“Because this new technology is capable of producing large-scale, fiber-reinforced concrete, it can be used for real-world applications,” he adds. “There are many stories filled with expectations about 3D printing, but you cannot create a building with expectations. You need technology that works.”
3Dealise and Bruil created a twisted H-shaped profile with this new method that they recently unveiled at GEVEL 2015, a Dutch 3D printing exhibition. The 1.6 m tall twisted H‐profile was only one example of the process, and Stapper says the parts from such molds can be “stacked like Lego to produce larger shapes.”
“There is a major trend away from mass production, and towards customized products designed to meet specific needs,” Stapper says. “3D printing is particularly well suited to produce customized products because every print can be different.”
Have you ever used an ExOne printer or commissioned parts from one? Let us know in the Complex 3D Printed Concrete Forms forum thread on 3DPB.com.