We were contacted by Kalispell, Montana-based The Future Is 3-D after our recent post on build sizes. The post discussed the ultimately not useful statistic of cost per build size. Nevertheless, this small company has been making RepRap Mendel-based 3D printers for over a year and specializes in large build sizes. They're not kidding, either, as these are the largest build envelopes we've seen on anything you could actually buy.
But how big exactly are the build envelopes on The Future Is 3-D's machines? According to TFI3D chief Jeff Christiana:
We specialize in very large build areas. We have printers shipping that can print an object up to 16 x 16 x 11.5 for a fraction of the price that others are selling. We believe that we are the largest 3D printer with the largest build area available. Our Platforms are all heated, and can print very large parts.
For metric readers, that is equivalent to an astonishing 406mm x 406mm x 292mm. Apparently they've been requested to build a 4x4 FOOT (gasp!) build envelope 3D printer as a custom build.
Of course, you may be thinking, the prints must take forever because when you double the axis size, the print volume goes up by a factor of eight. We asked Christiana:
Most of the items are 8+hrs.. It does take time. I have not had a failure of a slip. Right now we are just using standard stepper motors. We might move to servos so they always know where they are in a 3-dimensional space during the print.
As we suspected, they recommend printing in PLA to not only avoid warping at that scale, but also because PLA is a lot more eco-friendly.
Giant 3D printers, available now for pretty decent prices: a 16x16x11.5 inch model with heated platform, 5 pounds of PLA and a possibly industry unique one-year warranty for only USD$2100! And it's fully assembled!
There's only one problem: they have an 8-10 week lead time due to the stream of orders. But we suspect it might be worth the wait.