Thermwood, the manufacturers of large format 3D printer, have announced the addition of thermographic imaging to their Large-Scale-Additive-Manufacturing machines (LSAM) machines. This addition allows precise control of heat during the printing process. The U.S. company claim the addition of thermal imaging will improve print quality and minimize printing faults. The LSAM machine developed by Thermwood has a 3D printing build volume of “10ft wide, 5ft high up to 100ft long” and the machine can also use a CNC milling head to subtract material or finish the surface of a 3D print.
This technique is frequently referred to as Hybrid AM. In the case of the LSAM the 3D printing technique is FDM/FFF and the printhead is fed with pellets of plastic rather than the filament normally seen on desktop machines.
The importance of heat management
Heat management is an important aspect of 3D printing. In order to print successfully, the temperature of the printing surface needs to the correct temperature in order to fuse with the new layer yet sufficiently cool and solid enough to maintain integrity. This sweet-spot can be difficult to configure, thus Thermwood are utilizing thermographic imagery in order to control the temperature of their printing. As the software shows above, the optimal temperature is represented by the color green.
This imagery from the thermographic camera is coupled with the LSAM’s cooling functions. If the imaging shows the surface has become too hot then the operator can slow down the print speed and increase cooling through fans; while if too cold, cooling can be decreased and print speed fastened. This process is easily controlled by the dial shown above.
The new thermographic camera can be mounted in three different ways: in a fixed position looking at the part, on the print gantry for large parts, or on to the printhead as shown above. This camera feeds images to the operator in real time allowing them to adjust controls accordingly. Elsewhere, if you’re interested in large scale additive manufacturing, the BigRep recently announced a new partnership. Also, 3DPI recently explored how Renishaw are approaching industrial 3D printing and heat management.
Featured image shows Thermwood’s LSAM machine. Image via Thermwood.