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Large format 3d printer
#1
Hi,

I am looking to build a large format 3d printer based on a CNC torch table design.

Fixed bed, initially with unheated stainless steel surface. Stainless beds have been extensively tested by several designers already. Later development will be a heated bed with zones so that one does not have to heat the entire bed if they are printing a small part.

Frame material is powder coat CNC cut brackets, and angle iron bolted together. Gantry will be 2mm aluminum plate, cut on CNC, then bent on press brake to form the right part.

Software will be Cura, with a modified firmware to accept dual print heads. The dual print heads will be treated in the Gcode like a dual tool CNC table with a engraver and torch. Same method of changing tools except the dual print heads will be a large extruder for rapid infill and a fine head for outer walls.

The projected build area is 5x10x3 feet.

Based on existing CNC torch table kit and material prices, I am projecting this to be able to offer this machine for $3500USD.

I already have the shop and equipment to make most of the hardware. I already have one CNC plasma table, The rack and pinion gearing I can have made at a tool and die shop in my building. The press brake is next door and I have the powder coat equipment. This is how I will be able to keep costs down by fabricating most of the parts in house.

Why am I doing this?

Well, several years ago, I partnered with a guy who was the worlds first large format digital print company founder. He told me about how he found the machine being built by a couple of new grad college students in a garage in Israel. He also heard about the first of these machines that was sitting in Richmond VA, unused. Seems a tobacco company bought the first one to print their tobacco billboards. The lawsuits happened and the machine gathered dust, never turned on.

My friend bought machine number 2 from the builders of the first large format inkjet machine. You prob have seen this machine printing banners at your copy shop. However back in the 90's this tech was very rare.
The builders of that machine? Scitex... Which was bought by HP for a hundred million a couple years later.

My friend flew that first machine from the garage in Israel to Sun Valley California. Next door to Hollywood. He started printing with his machine. Because it was new tech, it took over a month to get the thing working. The machine had all the problems that we see today in 3D. Driver issues, print head issues, materials issues, you get the idea. The machines print quality by today's standards was terrible. Something around 30dpi. But hey gotta start somewhere?

My friend ended up printing nearly every billboard for CBS outdoor, most of Hollywoods backdrops, the printed sails for the Americas cup yachts. He even did the first building and car wrap.

So I learned his lessons and his mistakes. He was successful because he was the first.

Thoughts?
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#2
(02-04-2013, 07:14 PM)rudalf Wrote: Well your project is good and has lots of new facilities as you mentioned above. But still the cost $3500USD is too high I think.

$3500 is quite reasonable, when you consider the costs for 3 big stepper motors, over a hundred kilos of steel, metal fabrication, and the sheer size proposed. Just the stainless steel to cover the print bed is over $200 by itself. Powder coating will run over $150 dollars. Quarter sheet of 1.5mm aluminum plate for the gantry, stainless steel threaded rod, brass rack and pinion, roller bearings, and engineering services to develop firmware.

We are talking about a entry level industrial quality machine here.

BTW The first large format inkjet printer was 100,000 USD+a jumbojet charter flight from Israel to Los Angeles.
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#3
(02-05-2013, 03:00 AM)Metzrobotic Wrote:
(02-04-2013, 07:14 PM)rudalf Wrote: Well your project is good and has lots of new facilities as you mentioned above. But still the cost $3500USD is too high I think.

$3500 is quite reasonable, when you consider the costs for 3 big stepper motors, over a hundred kilos of steel, metal fabrication, and the sheer size proposed. Just the stainless steel to cover the print bed is over $200 by itself. Powder coating will run over $150 dollars. Quarter sheet of 1.5mm aluminum plate for the gantry, stainless steel threaded rod, brass rack and pinion, roller bearings, and engineering services to develop firmware.

We are talking about a entry level industrial quality machine here.

BTW The first large format inkjet printer was 100,000 USD+a jumbojet charter flight from Israel to Los Angeles.

If your machine can produce acceptable quality output, I will be willing to contribute / purchase it.
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#4
We are still working on the project.

I am building a small model right now. The moving axis is made, waiting on electronics delivery from Hong Kong.
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#5
(03-06-2013, 08:02 AM)Metzrobotic Wrote: We are still working on the project.

I am building a small model right now. The moving axis is made, waiting on electronics delivery from Hong Kong.

What is the size of the machine? Send me some pictures as you go.
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#6
Hello there, I think $3,500.00 is reasonable, very reasonable. In fact if you succeed I think a bunch of existing 3D printer companies will be shaking in their boots. I am keenly interested and would love to keep up on this project. Maybe even help in some way.

Pecos
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#7
A huge format 3D printer would be too slow for producing anything in bulk. But it may be useful for one off prototyping. Sure you could print large items like plastic lawn furniture but who would wait 45 hours for it to print a chair unless it was a really cool piece of art too? I'm also making a larger machine but not for any reason in particular...just because the rods were long and I can. I don't think I will ever print anything larger than 10 inches but it will be capable of items 2 feet by 1 foot by 2 feet. You better have the entire thing in a temperature controlled box, I can't imagine how much of a problem warping will be for you. And only bolt the table in the middle so it can expand and contract or it will buckle. Leveling a 5 foot by 10 foot stainless steel sheet may be quite a challenge.
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#8
I'd like to purchase one of your large format 3D printers when it's ready to be distributed!

Awesome idea! Good luck with your development work.
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#9
(04-14-2013, 03:56 PM)Pecos Bill Wrote: Hello there, I think $3,500.00 is reasonable, very reasonable. In fact if you succeed I think a bunch of existing 3D printer companies will be shaking in their boots. I am keenly interested and would love to keep up on this project. Maybe even help in some way.

Pecos

I want to add contact me for pellets or filaments great quality stuff
Smile
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#10
I'd pay more than $3,500 for even a 40inch x 40inch x 40inch volume 3-D printer if the print quality is high and it has at least two extruders - one for water-soluble PVA support material. Many of us don't have the space for a printer with a 10ft long build platform, (my local maker shop would, but my office wouldn't) yet, we still need something bigger than the relatively tiny stuff out there now. Also, make sure it can use standard, off-the-shelf 5 lb (or larger) filament spools. The biggest problem with a few of the current "large" (300mm x 300mm x 300mm) printers is that you can't use a spool big enough to print a full sized object solid. Having something 1000mm cubed where we could print jumbo solid parts would be incredible. I could justify spending $5k for that, depending on the feature set.

My wish list for a device like this would include a self-leveling print platform which also automatically sets the optimum z-gap and has a good capacitive touch screen display (or allows you to plug in an iPad running an app for this function.)

Also, I'd be concerned about the print speed at that size. You'd have to use high torque, high speed steppers in order to move the head and extrude fast enough to keep print times on jumbo prints in the realm of reasonable. You'd also need a better nozzle design than the current FFF printers. You'd need to heat filament much faster than what we have now, in order to reach extrusion speeds high enough to print huge parts fast. Having a single part take a week or two to print wouldn't be of much use to me. A day or two is acceptable, but not a week.

I do wish you great success on this endeavor, though. Whether you end up making something I can personally purchase or not, this is a great idea.
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