Being among the oldest companies in manufacturing technologies, Thermwood is not one for going small with new inventions. Their latest foray into large-scale manufacturing is a massive FDM printhead with some amazing stats.
The printhead is a fairly massive component for an FDM printer and is indicative of a move toward large scale manufacturing in the wider industry. It’s part of the company’s LSAM (large scale additive manufacturing) project.
The design allows users to select from three varying ‘melt cores’. These interchangeable melt cores serve for different materials and thus different purposes.
The head itself is over 10 feet long and weighing one and a half tons. Despite its size it can still print at five feet per second. Unlike traditional FDM, this system uses melt cores. This gives the machine a markedly different modus operandi.
According to Thermwood’s description: “The print head is designed so that the “Melt Core”, which consists of a feed housing, extruder and polymer melt pump, can be changed should higher or lower print rates be required.”
Since the melt cores decide the maximum print rate, they also determine the size of the bead between layer cooling periods. While the melt cores decide the print rate, cooling time is dependent on material, amount of fan cooling and geometric shape of the layer. A 60 mm melt core can process materials faster than the standard melt core and a 70 mm melt core operates at rates of over 500 lbs per hour. So far Thermwood have used the machine to print Carbon Fiber reinforced ABS and Carbon Fiber reinforced PPS.
No chamber heating or printbed heating. The output rate is so high that it actually requires cooling as opposed to heating. The head prints each layer at just enough speed to allow for sufficient cooling before it deposits the next one. The company reports negligible voiding and warping in their final results.
LSAM systems can print at temperatures up to 450°C. The company has equipped the printhead onto their 10’ x 10’ LSAM development machine. The machine uses Siemens temperature control module allowing for proper heat regulation.
All images courtesy of Thermwood website.