A team of researchers from the University of Maine revealed the largest 3D printed part in the world.
It is a boat, the 3Dirigo, designed on a large-format polymer 3D printer developed by the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The piece is 7.62 meters long and weighs 2.2 tons!
The project teams were awarded 3 World Records: the largest 3D printed solid part, the largest 3D printed boat and finally the largest 3D printer. This is a promising initiative for the maritime sector, which take advantage of the benefits of additive manufacturing.
More and more additive manufacturers are turning to large-format 3D printing, hoping to create large structures in one go and avoid assembly or post-processing steps that are expensive and time-consuming. The University of Maine is therefore joining this trend, with an emphasis on the use of composite materials. Last May, its partner the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) received $20 million to develop a large-format additive manufacturing program based on 3D printing materials that contained wood fiber. The 3D printing of the boat is therefore a significant step forward in this government-supported project.
3D Printed Boat: The Manufacturing Process
The UMaine teams worked with Ingersoll Machine Tools to develop their 3D printer, it presents a printing volume of 30 x 6.70 x 3 meters (length, width and height) and a speed of 227 kilos per hour. The print head is fixed on a gantry mounted on rails, making it easier to move along the length. As of today, the manufacturer is not offering a wide-range of compatible materials, however the machine was designed to use raw materials of biological origin, in particular cellulose from wood. Apparently, the 3D printer was designed for rapid prototyping applications for civil, defence and infrastructure applications.
In order to demonstrate the capabilities of their large format 3D printer, the teams created the 3D printed boat 3Dirigo. It was manufactured in just 72 hours from a mixture of plastic and wood cellulose. The part is 7.62 meters long and weighs 2.2 tons, making it the largest solid structure ever 3D printed.