VoxelJet are well-known for their massively-sized industrial 3D printers. But the size actually enables lower cost manufacturing.
VoxelJet’s 3D printers are designed for producing molds for investment casting, and they do that very well. That’s not a unique feature, as many other industrial 3D printers also provide similar capabilities. The difference is in the size.
All of VoxelJet’s machines have large build volumes, the smallest being their VX200, with a volume of 300 x 200 x 150mm. From there they just get bigger, such as the massive VX1000, which has a build volume of 1060 x 600 x 500mm, or their flagship model, the VX4000, whose build volume is measured in meters: 4 x 2 x 1m (pictured at top; note the size of the human doorway!)
But here’s the thing: If 3D printers are used for investment casting, the printing is only one part of the process. Casting takes place after the mold is printed, and the casting process does take time and effort.
In the case of the VX4000, the build volume is so great that multiple molds can be produced in a single print. Imagine a volume of 4 x 2 x 1m filled with identical molds, held together with casting sprues. For a part of size, say, 190 x 190 x 190mm, you could fit as many as 1,000 pieces in a single print!
Such a “multi-mold” print would require only a single casting operation to produce multiple pieces – and the larger the print volume, the more pieces produced. VoxelJet claims they can significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing cast parts using this approach.
In most cases, there’s a financial “line” below which it is economical to 3D print a small volume of pieces, and above the line where is is economical to proceed with traditional manufacturing approaches for larger quantities. It seems that VoxelJet has discovered a way to move that line to much higher levels.