BigRep’s ALTRA 280: A High-Temperature, Large-Format 3D Printer

By on June 14th, 2024 in news, printer

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Operator with the ALTRA 280 high temperature 3D printer [Source: BigRep]

BigRep announced a new 3D printer with a twist: it’s a high temperature model.

The company that pioneered large-format FFF 3D printing ten years ago now adds a significant capability to their product line with the new ALTRA 280.

Like all high temperature 3D printers, the ALTRA 280 is fully enclosed. This allows the system to generate and maintain a very high internal chamber temperature that allows high temperature materials to print with less risk of warping. BigRep said the ALTRA 280 can heat the chamber up to 180C, far above typical enclosures that run around 70-90C. The heat is evenly distributed throughout the build chamber by airflow control tech. This should lead to more consistent part quality.

The build volume of the ALTRA 280 is large, but not as large as some of BigRep’s other devices. The ATLRA 280’s build volume is a very healthy 500 x 700 x 800 mm.

Reliability is a focus of this machine, as it uses servo motors rather than steppers for accuracy. The welded metal frame provides stability and is in general an industrial product.

BigRep lists both ULTEM 9085 and PEEK as possible materials for printing on the ALTRA 280. These high temperature materials are in good demand, since parts made with them can often substitute for metal parts if operating temperatures are lower — and be quite a bit less weight.

BigRep said the ALTRA 280 is an open materials device, meaning you are free to print any third party materials. This opens up a massive set of material options for operators, as almost any material could potentially be used.

BigRep has designed the ALTRA 280’s build chamber to double as a tempering system. Post print it can subject the parts to proper thermal profiles to finalize and strengthen the material. This means there will often be no requirement for additional thermal equipment.

The extrusion system is quite interesting. As you might expect, the hot end is able to reach a whopping 450C, enabling the printing of a vast array of potential materials. However, the interesting part is that the ALTRA 280 can handle to FOUR extruders. BigRep describes them:

“The ALTRA 280 is equipped with up to 4 DSX (Direct Synchronized Extruders) capable of printing at 450C up to 20kg in one cycle. Achieve complex prints with dual extruders and ensure seamless production with two respective backup extruders. Each DSX is a masterpiece, with integrated cooling channels and multiple sensors for monitoring and control.”

The concept of backup extruders means that the ALTRA 280 will be much more reliable. Should a jam occur, it seems that there could be a backup ready to take over.

The ALTRA 280 offers quite a bit of automated function, including complete calibration of bed and extrusion. The system also includes an onboard camera for remote viewing and operation. However, there’s no mention of AI-powered “spaghetti detection” that is offered by some competitors.

The print surface on the ALTRA 280 is a bit different than your typical 3D printer. Because of the very wide range of materials that can be 3D printed on the device, different types of print surfaces must be used. Many 3D printer operators are familiar with PEI as a useful print surface, but that’s not particularly useful if you are printing PEI!

BigRep has designed the ALTRA 280 to enable matching of material to print surface with material-specific print bed surfaces. These are sheets that are held down tightly by a vacuum system during printing. They are easily released after printing — and the next job can use a different sheet to print a different material.

The ALTRA 280 looks to be a machine of interest to those requiring large-format parts made in exotic engineering materials.

Via BigRep

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!