Sweden-based BLB Industries has produced a massive 3D printer to join the growing ranks of meter-sized devices on the market.
They call it “The Box”, and that certainly describes the machine: it’s a huge box as you can see in the image above.
The build volume on this machine is a massive 1500 x 1100 x 1500mm, which puts this machine in the same league as 3DPlatform WASP and BigRep.
But there are a few interesting characteristics on this machine that make it a bit different than the competition.
First, this machine is entirely enclosed. It has walls and doors for entry, unlike the other large-format options. This means the print quality could be better, and you might even attempt to print in materials that are subject to warping. However, at this size, I’m not sure that would work, although the company says it permits “a wider range of plastics to choose from” without naming specific materials.
The second interesting feature of The Box is its material system, which uses pellets instead of filament! This is critically important on a large-format machine because an enormous amount of plastic is consumed printing big objects. Pellets can be purchased for a fraction of the price of professionally-produced 3D printer filament. In fact, filament is MADE FROM pellets, so you’re effectively cutting out an entire piece of the supply chain.
The Box also offers interchangeable nozzles that can dramatically speed up printing. Again, this is a critical factor in large-format 3D printing. For example, the volume of material that can be extruded from a 2.0mm nozzle is 25X that of a standard 0.4mm nozzle. This permits operators of The Box to select a nozzle that optimizes print speed for a given object.
The Box uses linear motion systems from Bosch Rexroth instead of the standard stepper motors for increased speed. I’m not sure what speed they can achieve, but one report suggests 1,200mm per second, but that cannot be correct. Nevertheless, The Box apparently delivers up to 6kg of material per hour of printing, likely with the biggest nozzle available.
It appears there is definitely a market for these large-format devices, particularly when they are priced at levels far below that of the big industrial devices from Stratasys and 3D Systems. I don’t know the price of The Box, but I expect it to be in the USD$50-60,000 range to be comparable to their competitors.
Via BLB Industries