With 3D printers getting cheaper by the day you’ll soon find one in just about any household. It’s surely lots of fun but equally there’s a lot of potential for commercial applications. Let’s look at some of the largest things created with 3D printer.
This bicycle frame was printed using the Stratasys Objet1000 multi-material 3D printer. It’s a magnificent machine with a wide-format tray measuring 1×0.8×0.5m. This must be one of the most expensive bike frames ever. The price tag of the Objet1000 is upwards from $600,000 and it costs further $40,000 to load the beast with materials.
Quite a huge jump from your mainstream 300-dollar desktop 3D printer, nevertheless, the Objet1000 is probably one of the best prototyping machines currently on the market.
Walls and Furniture
The Oakland-based aptly-named company Emerging Objects is known for delivering some amazing architectural objects through the means of 3D printing. They have printed a 3-feet tall wall, modular furniture and many other things. What really excites me about Emerging Objects is their choice of materials.
They can now print stuff using concrete, recycled wood, chocolate, salt, nylon and even paper.
Bespoke Innovations is largely know for revolutionising prosthetic legs. They’re doing a great job where it makes the most difference. As far as big objects go, they’ve also printed a guitar. A plastic guitar does sound different but then again, each guitar sounds a bit different, so I’m sure there are future in printed guitars.
If you missed the Kickstarter campaign of 3DMonster, don’t worry, you can pre-order the machine from their website. They come in 3 sizes and the larger one has got a tray size of 60x60x60cm. Big enough to print a sculpture of Venus. What I particularly like about this 3D printer (apart from the size, of course) is that it’s got a quad-extruder and it’s not beyond reach – likely to cost less than $5,000.
The Winnipeg-based company KOR EcoLogic printed the entire body of their first eco-car prototype Urbee. Not surprisingly they used the already-mentioned Stratasys technology. There’s definitely future in the automotive industry for 3D printing – KOR EcoLogic is working on the 2nd prototype – Urbee 2 and it’s reported that most parts (not only the body) are going to be 3D-printed.
This one is really exciting. I can see the industry and tech prowess returning to Europe and North America and the focus shifting away from the over-dependency on China. 3D printing can breathe life back in the automotive industry and many other ailing manufacturing sectors of the Western world.
Although this project by Ivan Sentch doesn’t really qualify as the largest object printed on 3D, it’s pretty remarkable, so I had to include it. The guy is printing his dream car – an Aston Martin DB4 – bit by bit. And they said you could only print Yodas and Lego bricks! The project is currently on hold while the author sorts out his accommodation issues.
Yes, this experimental tiny hose was printed by architecture students of UCLA and HUD under the watchful eye of Peter Ebner. It’s part of the 2013 3M FutureLab research forum.
The house measures 2.2 by 2.2 metres, it is suitable for a single occupant. Somehow they’ve managed to fit in a toilet, shower and a single bed suspended mid-air. You’ll stay entertained while living in this printed house – it’s got its own cinema projector.
Well, this one hasn’t actually been printed yet but I have no doubt the day will come and then it will become the largest object ever printed with a 3D printer. Dr. Berokh Khoshnevis from University of Southern California has been working on a building method called Contour Crafting.
An enormous printer consisting of two steel arms and sitting on a pair of rails is going to be capable of building a house in 24 hours. What’s more surprising, it can also create wiring and plumbing. Guess who has recently issued a grant to help develop the technology? NASA!
Printing Large Objects with Small 3D Printers
If you want to print a big object but only have a desktop printer, you can use a method called Hyperform. It was co-developed by modern materials guru Marcelo Coelho, 3D and 4D printing visionary Skylar Tibbits with Natan Linder and Yoav Reches. The essence of the Hyperform method is to wrap a larger design into a smaller piece by folding the shape within the tray of a desktop printer.
You can print a long chain with it. Actually, they printed a 50-foot chain using just a desktop printer. Folding is a novel way of developing objects. There are many ways this method could be adapted for large-scale manufacturing as it saves space and money during manufacture and transportation.