Thermwood is a well-known Indiana-based company that sells high-performance CNC routers. In the last couple of days, the company announced the release of an exciting new line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) systems. The plan is to use these huge 3D printers to produce thermoplastic composite parts, with added reinforcement. The devices use CNC technology, which is something that Thermwood clearly excels at already.
Thermwood Development Program
The new 3D printers are the result of an extensive development program announced by Thermwood as early as February 2016. The new machine line, so-called LSAM, utilizes an impressive two-step near-net-shape production process to build sizeable thermoplastic composite parts.
The production process involves firstly 3D printing composite parts layer by layer to marginally larger than their planned final size. In addition to this, they then use one of their high-performance CNC routers to trim the parts to a precise final size and shape.
The company highlights its target market for the LSAM devices as a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, boating, foundry and thermoforming. The composite parts have a wide range of uses, including the production of tooling, molds, fixtures and much more. Furthermore, the advantages of this kind of large-scale manufacturing are worth it overall. In summary, lower costs and a shorter build cycle are the two key benefits.
LSAM 3D Printers
These LSAM devices are enormous. Again, to stress the size, the machines feature an overhead gantry, with a ten-foot wide, five-foot high work envelope. The length varies between 10-feet and a staggering 100-feet. The machine contains all the required functions to make composite parts — both the print gantry and the trim gantry, with its CNC router.
The PH15 print head prints at rates up to 150 lbs/hr. Thermwood believes this is the highest output rate available today for any large-scale additive manufacturing machine. The LSAM printer comes equipped with Siemens Intelligent Servo Drives for trimming and printing.
The Thermwood team believe they are on the cusp of the next manufacturing revolution with this new printer. According to CEO, Ken Susnjara, “We are at the beginning of what appears to be a revolution in manufacturing and we look forward to the new challenges and incredible possibilities that this type of transformational change brings”.
One thing is for sure — this is an exciting development for the large-scale application of additive manufacturing. It’ll be intriguing to see how the LSAM 3D printers transform the way companies produce composite parts.