There are a lot of crybabies out there who think that 3D printing is limited in terms of size and material output. Well, quit yer sobbin’. Last week at RAPID 2014, one company in Michigan blew spectators away with an enormous 3D print made in one piece entirely from metal.
The functional prototype, fabricated in Inconel 625, is 2108 mm tall and 822 mm wide (6.9 ‘ x 2.7’) at its widest point, was 3D printed in about 330 hours by Efesto, which specializes in large-format 3D metal printing. Their largest printer, the EFESTO 557, has a build chamber of 1500 x 1500 x 2100 mm (4.9’ x 4.9’ x 6.9’) and uses laser metal deposition technology developed in partnership with RPM Innovations to 3D print objects made from a wide variety of metals, including steel, aluminum, titanium, and more.
If you weren’t amazed by the build envelope of the Efesto machine, consider the print capacity of some of its competitors. The build volume of the EOS M 400 is 400 x 400 x 400 mm, ConceptLaser X line 1000R is 630 x 400 x 500 mm, SLM Solutions SLM® 500 HL is 500 x 280 x 325 mm, ExOne M-Print is 800 x 500 x 400 mm, and 3D Systems ProX 300 is 250 x 250 x 300 mm. In other words, the EFESTO 557 is huge.
If they hug in just the right way, the EFESTO 557 could fit both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird inside its build chamber. You might even be able to shove Muggsy Bogues in there somewhere! And, while we might like to see such a life sized sculpture of three NBA all stars printed in solid steel, the company can print (arguably)much more useful objects, such as functional components for the aerospace, defense, energy, mining, and construction industries. With the largest argon build chamber on the market, the Efesto machine could fabricate geometrically complex, lightweight, and efficiently designed objects, with less material waste than parts made by traditional means. But could those components give the Lakers a win against the Celtics by banking an off balance shot by the three-point line at the buzzer?