Australia is best known for the Sydney Opera House, increased UV radiation due to the growing ozone hole over Antarctica and evidence of convergent evolution. So, it’s not surprising that, while Jim Smith came out with his huge 3D printer – with a build volume of 403.00 x 403.00 x 322.70 mm or 15.86 x 15.86 x 12.70 inches – in the United States, on the other side of the world, Jason Simpson would be developing his own mega machine as further proof of convergent evolution.
Jason tells me that he and his father started their Australian company, ART 3D & Advanced Rollforming Technology PTY LTD, “21 years ago with the intention of producing metal components and building specialist machinery and equipment that aid manufacturing. In the mid 90’s we started building our first robotic X-Ray system for Berthold Australia, end customer being ASIO (The Australian Security Intelligence Organization). With the success of that, we started to do many things from medical imaging equipment to equipment to aid the manufacturing of radio pharmaceuticals, including radiation protection equipment. We have always strived to build things as well as any other company. When we first heard about 3D printing many years ago, it instantly got our attention as we realized its great potential in many fields.”
And, so, Jason and his father set out to create a large format 3D printer for an affordable price. Their first and smallest printer is 1 meter wide, 1 meter deep, and 400mm tall or 40″ x 40″ x 16″, with a footprint of 1400mm x 1400mm, about 3 times the size of Jim Smith’s machine. In order to heat the behemoth, it “has 4 separate zones for heating using less than 2000 watts in total for all 4 zones heating up to 120 degrees.” The x and y-axes use a unique 12-rail system to increase speed and efficiency and the whole thing is operated using a 22” touch screen running Windows 8. The ART 3D Printer is designed with four extruders that print 3 mm and 1.75 mm filaments, which Jason hopes will eventually include chocolate and other foods, as well as multiple colours and materials to yield more complex models.
The ART 3D Printer, the heavyweight champion of Australia, will go on sale in October of this year. They’re still working out the price, but are sure that it will be less than $100K. If you’re one of the lucky people to get your hands on this machine, you will also be lucky enough to print your children life-size duplicates for parties and practical jokes.