When casting moulds are no longer built but printed – World’s largest 3D printing system goes into operation in the USA.
What is claimed to be the world’s largest 3D printed sand mould system has been commissioned in Canton, Michigan, USA. No other 3D printing system for sand moulds offers larger continuous build volumes, the company states. At 4,000 by 2,000 by 1,000mm (length by width by height), the build space more or less corresponds to the size of a VW Golf automobile.
David Tait, managing director of Voxeljet America, commented on the development: “The market for cast parts in the US has always focused on size. With the VX4000, we not only produce the largest sand moulds in the world, but can also combine these with smaller mould components. The resulting flexibility provides for rapid delivery times and cost-efficient production.”
The technology is aimed in particular for 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.
The moulds are created with the layer-wise application of the particle material quartz sand (0.3mm thick layers) that is glued together with a binding agent. After the printing process is complete, the mould only has to be unpacked, that is, cleaned of excess sand.
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.
The 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, it is claimed.
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 overnight or in a few days.
Rudolf Franz, chief operating officer of the Germany-based firm explains the decision to launch the machine in the USA: “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.”