Thermwood presents the largest 3D printer in the world with a 10 x 10 ft moving table.
Thermwood is an Indiana-based developer and manufacturer of CNC machines. Thermwood machines are used in the 3D-printed car production by Local Motors. The car bodies are printed on the BAAM large-format 3D printers by Cincinnati Incorporated, and then processed by Thermowood milling machines. This collaboration pushed Thermowood to develop their own large-format 3D printer. As a result they produced LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing), a large-scale hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing technology, which was quickly noticed by Boeing and Bell Textron aircraft manufacturers. It prints molding tooling, such as the six-meter-long reinforced ABS plastic molds used in helicopter rotor blades production .
Thеrmwood celebrated its 50th anniversary having launched a version of LSAM with Moving Table system in two sizes: one with a 10 x 5 ft table and one with a 10 x 10 ft table. The additional two feet can mount the optional Vertical Layer Print table to build parts horizontally.
The moving table approach allows for downward scaling and reduces the cost of the AM system while maintaining its versatility. The LSAM build capacity has to be intentionally limited, since at a high feed rate the plastic does not cool and large parts can deform under their own weight. The developers decided that it would be easier and more cost-effective to print large models in parts, so there is no need for a large frame. But in case such a need still arises, it is possible to replace a small build plate with a larger one. The moving table system is necessary to make a large build plate fit into a relatively small-sized printer.
This approach has limitations on materials. The technique involves the components bonding, but most of structural thermoplastics are resistant to solvents, so it is impossible to 3D print prefabricated structures made of polysulfone, polyethyrymide or polyethyrsulfone. In this case, the original large-format LSAM version is needed. However such materials are not used very often and ABS plastic, carbon or glass fiber-reinforced if necessary, is quite enough for mold tooling.