In May of last year, Juho relayed news of a free form 3D printer called Mataerial, by Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. The machine, a material extruding robot arm, can print layer by layer onto any surface at any angle by using a fast-curing resin. Since then, the project has evolved to print metal.
Joris Laarman Lab, in partnership with Acotech, the team upgraded their resin printer, now called MX3D-Resin, by outfitting the robotic arm with an advanced welding machine. The new MX3D-Metal is capable of fusing bits of molten metal, like “steel, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze or copper without the need for support-structures”.
At the same time, and with support from Autodesk, the team is working on the machine’s accompanying software, saying, “The combination robot/welding is driven by different types of software that work closely together. This will eventually have to end up in a user friendly interface that allows the user to print directly from CAD. We are developing printing strategies for the different kinds of 3D printable ‘lines’. For instance, vertical ,horizontal or spiraling lines require different settings, such as pulse time, pause-time, layer height or tool orientation.” Enough talk, here’s the thing in action!
Unfortunately, the printing process is rather slow, as the metal has to cool enough to continue extruding. To make up for it, the MX3D can print in any direction and is freed from the confines of an enclosure. This means that the theoretical size of the machine’s print volume is limitless, like its predecessor. Of course, there are still safety precautions that need consideration, what with the molten metal and everything. Still, the possibilities for such a machine are mind-blowing.
The MX3D-Metal machine is, in some ways, a magnified version of the Michigan Tech open source 3D metal printer. One wonders if maybe that’s where the Joris Laarman Lab got the idea. One also wonders what other 3D metal printers are in the mix for this year.
Source: Joris Laarman Lab