WORLD’S LARGEST 3D PRINTING SYSTEM GOES INTO OPERATION IN THE US
voxeljet increases its presence in the US growth market with the start-up of the largest 3D printing system in Michigan. With the VX4000 3D printer, one of the leading providers of large-format 3D printers and on-demand parts services underlines its important position in the US market. This benefits in particular the US foundry industry, which is a direct consumer of these services. For example, 3D printers can be used to manufacture large rotors and turbines – and usually much more quickly and cost-effectively than using traditional methods.
No other 3D printing system for sand molds offers larger continuous build volumes. At 4,000 x 2,000 x 1,000 mm (LxWxH), the build space more or less corresponds to the size of a VW Golf car. David Tait, Managing Director of voxeljet America, commented the expanded capacities of the voxeljet equipment fleet and range of services in the US as follows: “The market for cast parts in the US has always focused on size. With the VX4000, we not only produce the largest sand molds in the world, but can also combine these with smaller mold components. The resulting flexibility provides for rapid delivery times and cost-efficient production.”
Printing process especially adapted to large designs
The VX4000 is very fast and easy to operate. In addition to ensuring cost-effective production processes for very large individual molds, this huge 3D printer can also be used to produce small series parts or a combination of the two. In addition, it also prints stable side walls, which means that the size of the build space can be adjusted as needed. No other comparable system is able to adjust the build speed to the build volume in such a way.
Another feature: The layer building method has been especially adapted for this printer. Therefore the building platform is not lowered during the printing process, but rather the print head is raised with each layer. The machine thus easily supports the heavy weight of the building platform, which can also be quickly replaced via a rail. This allows for virtually permanent printing.
The molds are created with the layer-wise application of the particle material quartz sand, which is glued together with a binding agent. After the printing process is complete, the mold only has to be unpacked, i.e. cleaned of excess sand. Since sand molds are created directly from CAD data, they set the trend in terms of richness of detail and precision.
Conquering the US market for 3D printing
Although voxeljet has specialized in additive manufacturing for the foundry industry, in general every company that uses casting processes – hence designs, processes, uses or optimizes cast parts – can benefit from voxeljet’s technology.
With the decision to introduce the VX4000 in the United States, voxeljet completes its service range for the on-demand 3D printing of large sand molds in this market. “We decided to place our largest printing system in the US in order to service growing demand in the US market directly on location. Our objective is to strengthen our most important growth market with a diversified portfolio of machines, materials and processes,” is how Rudolf Franz, COO of voxeljet AG, describes the great potential of the US market. Indirect beneficiaries of this high-end technology are the automotive industry, the special machine building sector and the spare parts industry in particular.
3D printing offers clear cost advantages
Demand for 3D-printed sand casting molds and plastic models has grown considerably, particularly in the US, which is considered the largest growth market for 3D printing. In terms of total costs, 3D printing is much more cost-effective than traditional methods due to the complete lack of tool costs, at least up to a certain batch size. The smaller the batch size, the greater the cost advantage offered by voxeljet's technology. Particularly in the case of complex geometries, 3D printing is still the most economical alternative even for batch sizes of several hundred units. 3D printing: faster, more flexible, on demand
The other advantages of the 3D printing method range from shorter production periods to less post-processing work of the raw cast components. The same essentially applies to investment casting, where 3D-printed plastic models have replaced classic wax models that are very time-consuming and expensive to produce with injection tools. In contrast to the conventional manufacture of molds using injection tools, in which the production of model plates or core boxes alone can take several weeks, 3D printing makes it possible to print elaborate sand molds over night or in a few days. All that is needed are the CAD data sets, which can even be processed on demand.
Advantages of 3D-printed sand molds and cores at a glance:
- Economical production: Sand molds and cores are printed in one piece without complex and expensive tool production.
- Large-format printing: Large molds can be produced on a build platform measuring 4,000 x 2,000 x 1,000 mm (LxWxH).
- Fast availability: Express delivery in only 3 working days.
- Complex components: Nearly unlimited geometries and even undercuts can be implemented.
- Precise sand molds and cores with high surface quality: With 300 µm thin quartz sand layers.
- Familiar features: Quartz sand and furan resin with series-comparable mold and casting properties.
- Suitable for sand-casting all castable metals, such as aluminum, brass, magnesium, iron and steel casting as well as all common alloys.
- Combinations possible: 3D printed cores can be combined with traditional sand molds, and vice versa.
- Simple core removal: A low binder content means that the behavior during outgassing and core removal is similar to traditional methods.
- Ideal for prototype production and tool optimization: The development and improvement of e.g. tools using 3D printing is faster, more flexible and more economical.