WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
3D printing improves sustainability, lets us print products on demand and eliminate global supply chains, and revolutionises manufacturing. Now it’s scaling.
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Boeing said many years ago that one day they’d like to 3D print an entire plane, Dubai want to 3D print a 80 storey skyscraper, and increasingly car manufacturers, like General Motors, are licking their lips in anticipation of being able to use AI’s to design cars and then 3D print the finished product out, but we knew that scaling up the desktop sized technology would take a while – for a host of reasons. But this week the biggest 3D printer in the world just printed a 25 foot, 5,000 pound boat, which is the largest object that has ever been printed.
The feat achieved by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (UMaine) snagged no less than three Guinness World Records for the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, as well as the largest solid 3D printed object, and the largest boat which has ever been produced by a 3D printer.
You can see the printing process in the video, and, frankly, it’s a really quite remarkable achievement by the folks over at UMaine.
The 3D printer can actually go bigger though and is capable of printing objects that are as long as 100 feet, 22 feet wide, and 10 feet high, and forget pages per minute, this thing can print up to 500 pounds of solid object per hour!
UMaine’s eventual goal is to eventually commercialise this sort of large scale 3D printing for the benefit boat builders everywhere, and because the printer uses bio-based wood materials to print the objects the university also hopes it will benefit the local Maine economy as well. As Senator Angus King commented:
“Maine is the most forested state in the nation, and now we have a 3D printer big enough to make use of this bountiful resource. Today marks the latest innovative investment in Maine’s forest economy, which will serve to increase sustainability, advance the future of bio-based manufacturing and diversify our forest products industry.”
Moving forward UMaine will be partnering with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in a $20 million research collaboration to develop it further and produce new bio-based materials that are suitable for the 3D printing of large objects.
So who knows, one day soon we might actually see Boeing make a large flying wooden plane using this same technology – it’s like the 1900’s are about to make a come back! Who knew?!
Source: Maine Public