There are two main constraints preventing 3D printing from becoming a major factor in the manufacturing of large scale objects. First and foremost is speed, and second is the lack of 3D printers large enough to produce large scale, detailed objects. Even to print an object the size of a basketball, on a traditional FDM based printer, can take over 24 hours in most cases. This is a major impediment to the adoption of such manufacturing techniques within a variety of industries. After all, even when prototyping, who wants to wait days for a part to print out? While there are 3D printers being constructed with larger build volumes, such devices are oftentimes clunky and unreliable.
Bot Laboratory, a Los Angeles California based company, founded by a man named Zachary Schoch, is proving that these constraints are no longer an issue. Schoch showed off an enormous 3D printed wall, called the m_Wall at the 2014 Maker Faire last week. The wall measures a staggering 6’4″ (1.9 meters) tall, and probably close to half that in width.
If you think that the size of this print is impressive, then the fact that the m_Wall was printed in only two pieces, taking a total of 10 hours, will really amaze you. Bot Laboratory used the Euclid Robot 3D Printer, which is the creation of Schoch himself, to extrude a very strong ABS plastic with a pass print thickness of approximately 1/4 inch (6.35mm). As you can see from the image above, this makes the printed wall incredibly strong, which is perfect for future uses, perhaps within architecture.
“In order to print architecture, it needs to be created using less expensive methods than those of ‘traditional’ 3D printing,” said Schoch. “Time is money, and now architectural scale 3D printing is economically feasible as demonstrated by the m_Wall due to the high speed and inexpensive plastic pellet based Euclid Robot 3D printer. Because time has a direct corollary to cost, Bot Laboratory constantly strives to drastically reduce print times.”
The team at Bot Laboratory designed the m-Wall using an algorithmic modeling software called Grasshopper 3D. Instead of using a traditional slicing method, Schoch developed a custom script to use within Grasshopper 3D, in which he programmed in the data needed for extrusion and the motion of the Euclid Robot 3D Printer. Unlike typical 3D printers, which are constrained by the axes they are tethered to, the Euclid robot is able to print at funny angles, as well as print out curved and non-planar layers. Because Schoch is the one who created the robot, he is the best one to design using it.
Zach is currently working hard to find new ways to use the inexpensive pellets, which can be fed into the Euclid Robot to print large scale objects, and hopefully “revolutionize the way we create and build space.” Discuss this amazing wall, as well as the printer which helped build it, at the 3DPB.com m-Wall forum thread. Check out a quick video of the Euclid Robot 3D Printer below.
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