Giant DIY 3D Printer Demonstrates The Challenges Facing 3D Printer Manufacturers

 Ivan Miranda with his enormous home built 3D printer [Source:YouTube]
Ivan Miranda with his enormous home built 3D printer [Source:YouTube]

I’m watching a video of a DIY 3D printing enthusiast make an enormous 3D printer. 

Spain-based Ivan Miranda is a YouTuber who specializes in 3D printing large objects. For some reason, his prints are almost always made in orange material; perhaps he gets a deal from a filament provider for that color. 

Giant 3D Printing

His previous video projects most notably include 3D printing a huge army tank, a speedboat, the “world’s largest nerf gatling gun” and similar unusual and sensational items. His latest video shows him constructing a rather large FFF 3D printer. 

There’s not a lot of specific information about this device, the “Big 3D Printer MkII”, aside from what you can see by chance in the video. Miranda hopes to soon post the design files for the device online, however. 

The Big 3D Printer MkII seems to be approximately 800mm on a side, making it an extremely large 3D printer. It has a heated print bed, but its open format likely makes it suitable only for 3D printing low temperature materials such as PLA. 

Miranda explains that it makes use of mainboards from Duet and the powerful Hemera extruder from E3D-Online. 

Building A 3D Printer

What’s fascinating about the video is the process of observing Miranda build the machine. Anyone familiar with the industry will quickly recognize his extensive use of standard components beyond the Duet and E3D-Online standards, such as extruded aluminums struts, mechanical end-stops, flexible cable guides, heated bed, glass plate and so on. 

Miranda swiftly proceeds through the assembly as if it is a routine matter. But really, it’s not. 

Building a 3D printer is a relatively common skill these days, whereas years ago it was a rarity done only by experts, entrepreneurs and researchers. After a time it became a common project for DIY hobbyists, and now we see a Miranda building a huge large-format 3D printer, and it works well, too. 

Large Format 3D Printing History

It wasn’t that many years ago that large-format 3D printers were not a thing. Then, in and around 2013, we saw a few brave entrepreneurs launch the large-format 3D printing niche, and in particular, BigRep. They were among the first to explore that niche, and it turned out to be quite successful. 

 BigRep’s firs major success, the BigRep One large-format 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]
BigRep’s firs major success, the BigRep One large-format 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

They, and several others, built large businesses on their ability to achieve large-scale 3D printing. But now we see that even in a large scale scenario a suitably knowledgable DIY hobbyist can quickly put together a functional large-format 3D printer. While this particular unit might not compare functionally to the best commercial large-format units, it would indeed compare well with the initial versions from those same vendors of years ago. 

Innovation in Large Format 3D Printing

This prospect could be alarming to less innovative large-format 3D printer manufacturers, and it strongly suggests that large-format 3D printer manufacturers had better keep innovating; the hobbyists may catch up and consume a portion of their business. 

I am aware of several large-format 3D printer manufacturers that spend their time being close to their clients and learning of the specific problems they are encountering. From this we see developments such as specialized material formulations that resist warping, even when printed at large scales, or the introduction of stronger engineering materials, or perhaps high speed extrusion systems to decrease the lengthy print durations. 

As always, there is pressure from the bottom, but that is what drives progress.

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