Large Format 3D Printing

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Large Format SLA 3D Printers

Large Format 3D Printing

Written By: Ron Luther, Manufacturing Specialist - March 13, 2024

Take advantage of our large format industrial additive machines to print huge parts or high volume production orders in a wide selection of engineering grade materials.

The Challenge with Splitting Parts

Typically parts that exceed the build volume of standard printers are split up into smaller sections that then must be assembled. We’ve written about this in detail in our post Splitting and Assembling Large 3D Printed Parts. While this is a great solution to a common problem, it comes with complications that can affect cost, quality, timeline and dimensional accuracy.

A part too large for a standard industrial 3d printer build volume
The part must be split and printed as pieces

Parts too large for a standard printer must be segmented and printed in pieces, then reassembled.

When splitting a part, consideration needs to be given to how it is going to be reassembled. This usually involves designing additional features that ensure the sections attach properly. Methods include tongue and groove or lap joints, bosses for fasteners or alignment jigs for holding the parts together while gluing. Most of these solutions result in additional material usage, and the resulting part may be weaker along the seams than a one piece print. If seams need to be hidden, the entire part has to be glued, filled, primed, sanded, painted and finished.

Assembling split parts also has an impact on tolerances. Offsets need to be included for any keys or mating surfaces and there is still a risk that the dimensions across a split will be inaccurate.

These strategies are subject to complications, so testing is often recommended before committing to an entire part. This involves isolating and printing a section on each side of a split in order to test the fit and function of whatever mating feature is being used. The added time to design, test, glue, assemble, clean up and finish a part can be substantial, which is why we decided to add more large format machines to our production capabilities.

Print Huge Parts

Our large format machines give you the ability to print very large parts as a single body, rather than segmenting, keying, and joining. This can save on up-front design time, post-processing costs and significantly reduces lead times.

Automotive dash prototype printed as a single piece for industrial designers

Our 3D Systems ProX950 can print an entire vehicle dashboard as one piece.

If you give us a part that is so big that it exceeds the build volume of our largest machines, we can still split it for assembly. It ends up being far more efficient than splitting it for smaller machines, because the preparation, labor and potential error adds up with every split. 

Production Volumes

Even if you're not printing large parts, our large build volumes enable high throughput of production parts with excellent reliability, repeatability and tolerances across the build area. This is a great choice for companies that want to produce end-use consumer parts while maintaining complete design flexibility and avoiding the expensive tooling costs that come with traditional high volume manufacturing methods like injection molding.

large format printers enable higher production volumes

Large printers have very high throughput, enabling even greater production volumes than our standard industrial machines

FDM

Large format FDM (with good accuracy) is difficult to pull off because it requires high gantry rigidity across the long spans of each axis, parallelism between the gantry and the large build platform, and consistent temperature control throughout the build volume. It is also important to use high quality filament clear of contaminants, with low moisture content, and consistent extrusion diameter in order to reduce the incidence of quality issues since larger builds always come with a higher probability of failure.

Stratasys has figured this out. Our industrial fused deposition modeling machines are remarkably reliable across even the largest builds when it comes to part stability, tolerances across long spans and repeatability between prints.

The carefully controlled temperature inside the build chamber, coupled with the platen flatness, consistent calibration, material quality, regular maintenance, and technical know-how combines to form the perfect recipe for super high quality parts across the entire build area.

Stratasys F900 3D Printer
Stratasys F900

Build volume:

36 × 24 × 36 in
914 × 609 × 914 mm

Stratasys F770 3D Printer
Stratasys F770

Build volume:

69 × 49 × 77 in
1750 × 1240 × 1960 mm

SLA

Our large format stereolithography technology is indispensable when it comes to producing watertight parts, or parts with an ultra smooth surface finish on tight timelines. With industrial SLA, the build volume is directly dependent on the amount of resin stored in the vat below the build platform. Larger machines have more than $100,000 worth of photopolymer resin sitting inside of them at any given time. Once printing is done, the parts need to be post-cured, which is made possible with our large format UV curing oven.  

Our ProX950 printers have the largest build volume in our SLA facility, which means we can print huge monolithic parts with high complexity and fine details and move them into post-processing and finishing without any assembly required. With dual laser spot sizes, print times can be reduced by using small laser spots on fine details and outer walls while a larger spot size is used to quickly cure interior features. 

This design freedom and speed is what makes this technology popular with film industry prop-masters and industrial design studios. Film props are almost always highly time-critical and minor differences in production time can make or break a project. Automotive designers are able to print entire car dash pieces, allowing them to rapidly iterate through design variations without the need to remove or ignore artifacts from split parts. 

3D Systems ProX800 3D Printer
3D Systems ProX800

Build volume:

26 × 30 × 22 in
650 × 750 × 550 mm

3D Systems ProX950 3D Printer
3D Systems ProX950

Build volume:

59 × 30 × 22 in
1500 × 750 × 550 mm

Go Big

While it is impressive to see some of the ingenious workarounds used by designers trying to print outside their printer’s build volume, large format printers completely sidestep this problem. Rather than factoring in additional time and money for complex pre and post processing, you can just upload your large parts to our quote tool and we’ll print them as a single piece while you’re working on more important things. If you have any questions about large format printing or want to share a project, please get in touch with us at sales@forgelabs.com!