What are the solutions available on the market for continuous 3D printing?


Automation and Continuous Production in Additive Manufacturing

As additive manufacturing becomes more prevalent in the industrial world, automation and continuous production are taking center stage. Companies are actively seeking solutions to automate their workflows and utilize powerful printers that can operate continuously for extended periods. One popular idea in this context involves integrating an assembly line as a printing platform to produce long pieces or smaller parts at scale. Additionally, various other technologies and systems exist in the market today to support continuous 3D printing with minimal interruptions.

German startup DP Polar was one of the pioneers in continuous 3D printing before being acquired by 3D Systems in fall 2022. The company’s pioneering High-Speed Rotative AM (HSR AM) technology has undergone further development under the 3D Systems umbrella. The printer features a high-speed, constantly rotating build platform with separable, interchangeable segments, enabling uninterrupted output. Seamless integration with ERP systems ensures greater quality assurance, while automated pre- and post-processing elements streamline the manufacturing process. The DP Polar printer is designed to minimize human intervention, making it ideal for mass production of complex or specialized parts using a variety of materials and colors.

Industry giant 3D Systems offers the Figure 4 production platform, which is more than just a 3D printer. It is a modular solution that allows users to combine multiple machines or “configurable units” (including 3D printers and post-processing solutions) into a semi-automated system. By combining up to 16 resin printers within a dedicated control cell, users can significantly increase their production volume. The Figure 4 platform’s modular design offers customization and affordability, allowing users to scale up their printer volume with additional modules. The printers are compatible with a wide range of resin materials, including thermoplastic, rubber-like, and even biocompatible materials.

The Blackbelt 3D printer project originated as a crowdfunding campaign and quickly gained substantial support. While not the first to conceive the idea of integrating a conveyor belt, the BlackBelt team was the first to successfully implement it. This printer can handle various printing scenarios, including printing under different angles, long parts, unsupported structures, and serial production. It boasts a maximum print height and width of 340mm, with an infinite print length. The Blackbelt 3D printer is available in two versions: Standalone, which allows for printing at ergonomic height, and Roller Table, which enables the printing of long parts without limitations. Additionally, the printer primarily supports rigid materials but can be extended to print with flexible materials.

French manufacturer Cosmyx has developed the MIRA solution, a fully automated microfactory dedicated to industrial additive manufacturing. This system comprises FDM 3D printers controlled by a robot, ensuring round-the-clock production without the need for human intervention. MIRA comes equipped with sensors to monitor production quality and humidity levels in real-time. The integrated robot automates tasks such as inspection of 3D printed parts, preparing them for assembly, and packaging. By optimizing repetitive industrial processes, the MIRA solution accelerates production and eliminates the need for human intervention.

Shenzhen-based manufacturer Creality introduced its 3D printer project on Kickstarter. The printer, designed for continuous 3D printing, offers a range of features and functionality to enhance the production process. While specific details about this printer are limited, Creality’s reputation and commitment to innovation make it an exciting prospect in the market.

In conclusion, automation and continuous production are vital considerations in the additive manufacturing industry. Companies are investing in technologies and systems that enable seamless integration, increase production volume, and minimize human intervention. The developments mentioned above represent just a fraction of the solutions available in the market for continuous 3D printing, highlighting the ongoing commitment to advancing and streamlining additive manufacturing processes.

The world of 3D printing is full of innovative machines that are revolutionizing the way we manufacture and produce goods. One such machine is the 3DPrintMill, also known as the infinite length 3D printer. Created by Creality, this 3D printer features a conveyor belt made of nylon, allowing for the manufacture of pieces with an infinite length. It holds the record for the longest print to date, measuring 6 meters. One of its standout features is its ability to resume the printing process in case of power failure and detect the end of filament. With a maximum printing volume of 200 x 170 x ∞ mm, slightly less than the BlackBelt, the 3DPrintMill is ideal for mass production without the need for constant supervision. As the plate advances, the printed pieces automatically fall into a container.

Another solution that automates the printing process is the Form Auto, developed by Formlabs. While not a 3D printer in the strict sense, it is an extension that automates the removal of printed parts from the tray and starts the next print. Compatible with Form 3 and Form 3+ machines, Form Auto collects the parts in a UV-resistant tray, which can then be sent to the Form Wash for post-processing. This solution eliminates lengthy downtimes for 3D printers, offering a continuous production flow and greater freedom for the operator.

The iFactory One, developed by the German startup iFactory, is another 3D printer that uses a conveyor belt build plate. Released in 2020, this FDM-based desktop 3D printer allows for the production of high-volume parts without any interruption. Its build volume can be considered as 180 mm x 290 mm x infinity in length. With a 0.4 mm exchangeable nozzle capable of reaching a temperature of 260 degrees, the iFactory One can print at a speed of 200 mm/s. It is compatible with various filaments including PLA, PETG, PC, TPU, NYLON, or ABS.

Moving to industrial 3D printers, the HP Jet Fusion 4200 offers an ideal solution for functional prototyping and small series production. With different printing modes that prioritize mechanical, functional, or aesthetic properties, precision, or speed, it provides versatility for various applications. The printer boasts an integrated quality control system, displayed on its touch screen, and enables remote control. The layer-by-layer thermal control system allows for predictive voxel-by-voxel corrections. Additionally, the printer features an unpacking and material collection system, along with automatic material mixing and loading. A rapid cooling module ensures efficient cooling of prints. Continuous 3D printing requires the use of two HP Jet Fusion 3D manufacturing units, as the unit in use is automatically cooled and replaced by a new one once printing is complete.

Mosaic, a Toronto-based 3D printing manufacturer, offers the Array, a machine that focuses on high throughput, low cost, and minimal downtime. The Array cabinet houses four Element / HT 3D printers, each capable of supporting eight materials, resulting in a total of 32 materials, including high-performance polymers like PEEK or PEKK. With a storage cart for finished prints and an automation process that allows for continuous printing of up to 40 separate print beds, the Array is a powerful production tool. A robotic arm works in the background, seamlessly replacing print beds, transferring finished products to the storage cart, and even replacing materials. This level of automation significantly increases throughput and reduces cost per part. Mosaic’s management software, Canvas, helps control the workflow and manage multiple prints simultaneously. To ensure quality, Mosaic provides specialists to set up the machine and train users, including assistance for mass-scale production. Prices for the Array can be obtained from the manufacturer’s website.

For those looking for a DIY option, the Ender EZ Belt from PowerBelt3D is a great choice. This project aims to upgrade the Ender-3 printer by adding a sliding print bed, creating a fully automated continuous printing system. The Formula32 sliding print bed allows for smooth and uninterrupted printing. With the Ender EZ Belt, users can achieve a high level of automation and streamline their printing process.

All of these machines offer unique features and benefits, allowing for continuous production, automation, and increased efficiency in 3D printing. Whether it’s a DIY project or an industrial-grade printer, these innovations are shaping the future of manufacturing and production.

3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, allowing creators to bring their ideas to life in a cost-effective and efficient way. Over the years, several companies have emerged as leaders in the field, each with their own unique features and capabilities. In this blog post, we will explore some of the top 3D printer brands and models available today.

One of the most recognized names in the 3D printing industry is Prusa Research. Founded in 2009 by Josef Průša, a Czech hobbyist-turned-entrepreneur, Prusa Research has quickly established itself as a leading company in the field. Their flagship model, the Prusa Pro AFS, is an open-source project that offers an inexpensive yet durable 3D printer. With a price range of $250 to $450, depending on the components, the Prusa Pro AFS is ideal for makers looking to obtain a complete 3D printer without breaking the bank.

Another notable player in the industry is Robot Factory, an Italian company that has been making 3D printers since 2011. Their Silver Belt model is a kit FDM machine with a 45° inclined extruder, enabling continuous, support-free printing. With a printing volume of 270 x 300 mm on the XY axis, there are no length limitations, making it perfect for designing large objects or serial parts. Robot Factory also offers an already assembled version called the Sliding-3D, providing even more convenience to users.

Stratasys, the global leader in 3D printing and additive solutions, has developed the Continuous Build 3D printer. This printer boasts a scalable print capacity, allowing for continuous production of parts on a grid of build units. Stratasys prides itself on the printer’s repeatability, reliability, and ease of use. With automatic print prep and setup through SKYLAB Software, the Continuous Build 3D printer is compatible with ABS materials and offers a build size of 12cm3. Additionally, Stratasys has introduced the J55, a PolyJet 3D printing solution equipped with a rotating platform and stationary printhead, enhancing the printing capabilities and versatility of the machine.

Tiertime, a Chinese company, has made a name for itself by producing 3D printers and solutions for prototype manufacturing. Their X5 printer sets itself apart with twelve print beds and the ability to automatically place up to eight print beds on its build platform. This feature allows for continuous 3D printing of small batches, accommodating independent print jobs commissioned by different individuals. With a maximum speed of 200 mm/sec, the X5 can print small parts with dimensions of 180 x 230 x 200 mm. To ensure safety and minimize toxic emissions, the Tiertime X5 is equipped with a dual Hepa and activated carbon filter.

Spanish startup Triditive has introduced the AMCELL 8300 3D printer, a robotic cell dedicated to additive manufacturing. Designed for mass production of highly complex, precise finished parts, the AMCELL 8300, coupled with EVAM software, provides a platform that enables efficient management of manufacturing orders, process monitoring, and control of raw materials. This printer offers automated calibration of each print head, ejection of printed parts, and transfer to the manufacturer’s automatic storage module, TRACED. With guaranteed part traceability and a capability to print 8 tons of metal per year, the AMCELL 8300 is a powerful tool for continuous 3D printing.

In conclusion, the world of 3D printing is continuously evolving, with companies like Prusa Research, Robot Factory, Stratasys, Tiertime, and Triditive pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Whether you are a hobbyist, a small manufacturer, or a part of a large-scale production team, there is a 3D printer out there that can cater to your specific needs. These printers offer a wide range of features and capabilities, making it easier than ever to bring your ideas to life through additive manufacturing. The future of manufacturing is here, and it is 3D printing.

Introducing the AMCELL 8300 and the VX1000 HSS, two groundbreaking solutions in the world of continuous 3D printing. These printers are revolutionizing the way we manufacture components, offering an economical and additive alternative to traditional injection molding.

The AMCELL 8300 boasts a minimum layer height of 30 micrometers and features 8 robots, making it an incredibly versatile and powerful machine. With its heated enclosure and temperature control system, this printer ensures optimal conditions for printing, while its filter mechanism guarantees a clean and safe environment. The printing plate can reach temperatures of up to 150°C, enabling the use of a wide range of polymer materials and composites.

On the other hand, the VX1000 HSS is designed for continuous use in industrial production. With a 215-liter build volume, it can produce components measuring 100 x 540 x 400 mm. This printer uses polymer high-speed sintering, providing fast and accurate printing capabilities. While the standard material used is PA12, other materials can be added to the portfolio after qualification. The VX1000 HSS is suitable for mass production, small and medium batch sizes, as well as prototyping.

One of the key advantages of these printers is their ability to operate without unnecessary downtimes during mold changes. This allows for continuous production in shift operations, maximizing productivity and efficiency.

Both the AMCELL 8300 and the VX1000 HSS are equipped with automated systems, making continuous printing possible. This feature eliminates the need for constant monitoring and reduces the risk of errors, further enhancing the printers’ usability.

These continuous 3D printing solutions are transforming the manufacturing industry. With their high precision, speed, and versatility, they enable the production of sophisticated polymer components on an industrial scale. From mass production to small and medium batch sizes, as well as prototyping, these printers offer endless possibilities.

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Stay tuned for more exciting updates in the world of 3D printing!

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