We got inside – literally – the enormous Super Discovery large-format 3D printer.
This truly enormous 3D printer is produced by Spain-based CNC Barcenas, a company that began developing 3D print technology five years ago. Prior to that, and still occurring, is their marketing of other manufacturing equipment, including CNCs, lasers, and the like. So far, the company has been marketing their 3D printers to Europe only, but based on what we observed, they may have a product that could be in high demand elsewhere.
Their product line includes two machines. The “smaller” one, shown here, is the Discovery 3D printer. As you can see, it is not at all small. But we really want to talk about the other product in the CNC Barcenas line, the Super Discovery 3D printer, shown at top.
This enormous 3D printer is capable of 3D printing thermoplastic polymers, much like smaller devices can do. It uses either filament or pellets as input material, although the pellets would surely be a more economical approach for the massive 3D prints that emerge from this spectacular device.
The pellets are fed to the screw-driven extruder through a hose system, and are sourced from an on-board drying system, shown here. This ensures that the print material is of the highest quality just before printing occurs – any moisture absorbed by the pellets will boil during extrusion and mess up the surface quality and part strength.
Some of the Super Discovery’s specifications are a bit unusual for 3D printers. The minimum layer size, for example, is 0.5mm, which isn’t surprising. But the largest possible layer size, one that might be used when 3D printing large items, is 10.0mm, the largest thermoplastic layer size we’ve encountered.
Along with the large layer sizes, the Super Discovery comes with a 2mm nozzle that can output a large amount of material at a time. How fast can this machine print?
This chair, weighing 18kg, was apparently 3D printed completely in only 12 hours. That’s incredibly fast for such a large print. Large-format 3D printers using conventional extrusion systems would take days or even weeks to 3D print such a large piece.
Their build volume is, as you might expect huge, as shown here with Fabbaloo’s Marney Stapley acting as the size banana. That print on the plate is actually quite large.
At this point in this story, you may be thinking that the Super Discovery is merely a very large version of a standard 3D printer, albeit with a big fat nozzle. I must tell you that this is not the case, as there are some very unusual material properties available on this machine.
The company has installed a hot end that is capable of hitting an astonishing 450C, making the Super Discovery able to attempt 3D printing of many strong engineering materials – in huge sizes.
Their partnership with major plastic manufacturer SABIC has enabled them to experiment with a number of different materials, and we’re told this enormous 3D printer is in fact able to 3D print large objects in high-performance ULTEM material.
This is the only large-scale machine we’re aware of that can print ULTEM.
And it’s an open materials machine, meaning you can use any thermoplastic material. This should lower operating costs considerably over alternatives that require expensive proprietary material.
Their high-performance material capability is extremely interesting because it opens up the possibility of 3D printing large production components such as aircraft interiors or rail car features. This is a huge production market we’ve previously explored and is one that we believe Stratasys is hoping to break into through their improvements to their demonstration equipment shown a couple of years ago.
However, we’ve heard nada from Stratasys regarding their experimental demonstrators for quite some time, suggesting they may have moved on to other approaches. This may leave the large-print transportation network open to other players such as CNC Barcenas.
What is the price of this massive machine? CNC Barcenas would not tell us directly, likely because each machine is custom built. However they did say that price performance is very good, and that alternatives would be “5x more expensive”.
Currently the company is looking for resellers in other regions for their huge product line. It could be a very good opportunity for some resellers to add this very capable product, as it could open up access to new buyers in new industries.
Via CNC Barcenas