Thermwood Introduces Vertical Layer Printing
Thermwood has released a Vertical Layer Printing (VLP) option for its Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machines, enabling printing of parts as long as the machine table itself. The main advantage of Vertical Layer Printing is that long parts can be printed in one piece, rather than printed in sections and bonded together, necessary for applications such as large autoclave tools.
The VLP option adds a second moving table, mounted perpendicular to the main fixed horizontal table. This vertical table moves after each layer is printed, growing the part along the length of the machine rather than growing it upward. The growing part rides on Teflon-coated stainless steel belts. The belts and table drives accommodate parts weighing as much as 50,000 lbs. An LSAM machine with VLP option can be reconfigured from standard horizontal layer printing to vertical layer printing or vice-versa in a matter of a few hours, the company says.
Thermwood’s “controlled cooling” print technology minimizes sag, which might otherwise pose a serious problem if the part were kept at an elevated temperature, as is common with traditional thermoplastic composite printing, the company says.
The process has been validated with a variety of polymers including high-temperature materials such as PSU, PESU and PEI. Parts printed using VLP are said to be structurally and functionally identical to parts printed in the traditional horizontal layer configuration. According to Thermwood, LSAM molds and tools maintain vacuum in an autoclave to aerospace standards off the printer, without the need for external coating.
Watch VLP below:
Injection molder Evco has long seen the importance of industrial automation for plastics processing. Its latest automation feat? A cobot-tended cell of 3D printers for manufacturing fixtures and customer products unattended.
3D printing is becoming more common in the aerospace tooling realm. Production tooling can be made quickly and on-demand, which helps the tooling industry keep pace with accelerating composite part design cycles and demand for faster overall part processing speeds.
As an alternative to wooden tooling, 3D-printed forms for precast concrete are proving to be more durable and better able to support a large-scale renovation project.