3D printing takes on metal at Amsterdam lab (w/ video)

February 22, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —To say that the Joris Laarman Lab is an innovative type of group is putting it mildly. The Amsterdam place is described as "an experimental playground set up to study and shape the future. It tinkers with craftsmen, scientists and engineers on the many new possibilities of upcoming technology." One such possibility that has captured their attention has been coming up with a technique for large-scale 3D printing without the need for support material. They have been exploring ways to allow the creation of 3D objects on any work surface, and not requiring additional support structures. "By using innovative extrusion technology," they said, "we are now able to neutralize the effect of gravity during the course of the printing process." Welcome to the MX3D-Metal 3D printing initiative from the Lab, creating metal structures in mid-air.

As reported in Dezeen, the method combines a robotic arm typically used in car manufacturing with a welding machine to melt and deposit metal, to create lines that can be printed horizontally, vertically, or in curves, without the need for support structures. Adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, lines are printed in mid-air. The team vision is an affordable, multiaxis MX3D tool for workshops around the world.

"Introducing supportless multiaxis metal printing" says the group's promotional video. After developing a MX3D-resin printer last year, this time around the focus is on a printer with advanced welding machine, able to print with metals, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper, without the need for support-structures. (They are developing different kinds of print heads for different kinds of metals.) The Labs group said that the method makes it possible to create 3D objects on any given working surface independently of its inclination and smoothness in almost any size and shape. Their work has been in collaboration with Acotech and supported by software company Autodesk.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

A gathering point site for industrial designers, Core77, recently featured the Lab too, turning to Laarman for comments on the printer. The basic idea is simple: an advanced welding torch on a robot arm that communicates and is controlled by smart software.

They have also been working on strategies for the different kinds of 3D-printable lines. Vertical, horizontal or spirals call for different settings: pulse time, pause-time, layer height or tool orientation. This information will ultimately be incorporated in the software.

Explore further: Crowd sourcing project to allow 3D scan-to-print web app

More information: www.core77.com/blog/digital_fabrication/joris_laarmans_latest_anti-gravity_3d_printer_basically_conjures_metal_out_of_thin_air_26474.asp

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5 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2014
Coming up next: Printing houses including the wiring/sanitary infrastructure in one go.
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2014
THAT is bizarre. Future construction robots printing out rebar lattice in-place. Space construction printing out trusses for miles-square radio telescopes out of processed regolith shot from the moon.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 22, 2014
THAT is bizarre. Future construction robots printing out rebar lattice in-place. Space construction printing out trusses for miles-square radio telescopes out of processed regolith shot from the moon.

I was thinking exactly the same things, in orbit, on the moon, mars, or anywhere else! I do not know how long the process takes, but I found another video that uses the same technique but with resin, and this one I know it is sped-up 3X.
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 22, 2014
The Chinese will be interested for their moon industrialization plan. Meanwhile, Obama is busy watching basketball & ordering drone strikes.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2014
1 / 5 (2) Feb 22, 2014
The Vimeo video doesn't do metal fabrication from the looks of it. The Laarman Lab's prototyper works with metals. There is a huge difference.
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2014
I think this is very promising technology. One thing that puzzles me is why such devices weren't already made decades ago. I really don't understand it. 3D-printing in general is technology which was feasible decades ago. And I suppose that there were some attempts at 3D-printing long ago. But still. I'm surely missing something :)
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2014
The Chinese will be interested for their moon industrialization plan. Meanwhile, Obama is busy watching basketball & ordering drone strikes.

I get that you don't like Obama, but the rest of your thankfully short comment is a complete non-sequitur. I should be glad you aren't an advocate for anything I side with.
not rated yet Feb 23, 2014
Very informative!
5 / 5 (1) Feb 24, 2014
but the rest of your thankfully short comment is a complete non-sequitur.

Actually it is not.
The comment shows the Chinese are interested in progress for their people, while Obama (President of the USA and sets policy for the same) is not. Obama is interested in sports and killing people, with drone strikes. Not progress by any means of the word.
Perfectly sequitur.
not rated yet Feb 25, 2014
Let's shoot robot spiders into space, so they can spin us a space station frame out of carbon nano tubes. Then we can have the robot squids do the metallics. http://www.scienc...5845.htm Then again, they might want to use us as human batteries.
not rated yet Feb 26, 2014
It would seem that neither an electrical resistance test nor an x-ray of the welded structures would show an even uniform and structurally competent process - such that their metal crystal organization processes would be comparable to casting processes. We have a enough problems in welding seams and making them competent - much less an entire structure. There are inherent problems with controlling temps and cooling rates in molten metal processes that are very limiting and are going to be very difficult to get around in the more "daubing" - than printing 3-D metal process described here - and the smaller the daubs the worse these control problems get.
not rated yet Feb 26, 2014
Thank you for cooling down my enthousiasm if it was necessary. You seem to have some competences in metallurgy. What are the best 3D metal printing technologies you know? And what about the linked example bellow?

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