November 25, 2012
Voxeljet Technology GmbH (Friedberg, Germany) has announced the coming release of the VXC800, which it says is “the world's first continuous 3D printer.” The VXC800’s continuous additive manufacturing process, Voxeljet Technology says, “lays the foundation for a completely new generation of equipment” and that the VXC800 could potentially make the production of small runs of patternless molds and models for metal casting faster, more profitable, and flexible. The company adds that mold lengths produced by the VXC800 are “virtually unlimited” due to the system’s unique conveyor belt design.
The VXC800’s process works by simultaneously executing the 3D printing build activities on one side of the system and the unpacking step on the rear of the unit—without requiring interruptions of the printer’s operations. The company explains further that its technology incorporates a patent-pending design that uses a horizontal conveyor belt to control the layer building process.
The system’s 3D print methodology itself is said to be similar to conventional 3D printing: The VXC800 first builds up model layers at the entrance of the conveyor belt by depositing a layer of powder at an angle to the horizontal that is smaller than the repose angle of the powder. A high-definition printhead then selectively bonds the layers.
|The VXC800 build field. Image courtesy of Voxeljet Technology GmbH.|
Next, however, the unit’s conveyor system moves the entire fill toward the unpacking area in the rear by one layer thickness. Ultimately, the result is that finished models can “simply be removed” at the rear of the system when the process is complete. Since there are no restrictions with respect to the length of the conveyor belt, the VXC800 can build molds of “virtually unlimited” length.
Additional operational specifications reported include layer thicknesses ranging from 150µm to 400 µm. The width and height of the build area are 850 x 500 mm (33.46 x 19.68 in.). Print resolution is 600 dpi. Build material is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) sand.
“The VXC800 establishes a completely new generation of machine,” said Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO of Voxeljet Technology in a press statement. “The development of the world's first 3D continuous printer is a milestone not just for Voxeljet but the entire industry.”
|The VXC800 build area measures 33.46 x 19.68 in (850x500x2000 mm). Image courtesy of Voxeljet Technology GmbH.|
The company says that the VXC800 as well as its operating costs will be lower than those of conventional 3D printing systems. The first deliveries of the VXC800 are planned for the second quarter of 2013, the company estimates. For further details on the VXC800, visit Voxeljet Technology.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company's website.