Large-scale printing is made possible by robotic arms because of their longer reach, numerous axes and greater freedom. 3D printing manufacturers have modified them for both polymer and metal AM solutions. In the list below, we look at what is currently available for both original and modified solutions.
Undoubtedly, one of the world leaders in automation is the German firm KUKA. It develops solutions that can be modified for additive manufacturing. One of these is the reach from 2,671 to 3,904 mm and the load capacity from 120 to 300 kg of the KR QUANTEC range of robot arms.
The ABB Group is a global manufacturer of robot arms, especially those used in 3D printing. The best-known offline programming and simulation tool for robotic applications is its RobotStudio® software. The company claims that consumers can unleash their freedom and increase their company’s efficiency with the help of its service. In additive manufacturing, they can even create robots to suit their needs.
Italian robotics and industrial automation company Comau. A whole family of robots, including robotic arm solutions, is part of their product line. Aiming to integrate and develop cutting-edge applications in all industrial sectors, Comau has been producing these machines since 1978. They continue to operate independently using IoT and AI.
A Dutch company called CEAD creates large-scale 3D printers. Their robot-based systems integrate CNC machining and printing in a single operation. Comau’s robot arm is controlled by Siemens Sinumerik controls. The AM Flexbot can be upgraded with other features such as a rotary table, more robots or different manufacturing processes.
Weber Additive, the German company that develops various production technologies, offers robotic arm options for 3D printing. A top extruder capable of 3D printing is part of Weber’s DXR robotic system. An industrial robot with six axes drives the extruder, enabling precise movement. For best results, it customises both its AE series extruders and its robotic arm, which is based on Kuka manufacturing technology. These systems have several advantages, such as 3D printing with 6-axis kinematics, a changeable angle of the production head and overprinting on already manufactured components.
Hyperion Robotics, a company focused on construction, was founded in Helsinki in 2019. To create structures at a more reasonable price, it uses additive manufacturing. To achieve this, it sets up an extruder that can deposit Hyperion Robotics’ material into KUKA robots. Thanks to the use of reclaimed waste materials, this unique concrete mix requires less cement.
Massive Dimension is a manufacturer of turnkey robotic printing cells, as well as large-format 3D extruders and complete solutions. The company was created with the intention of making a sustainable contribution to global waste reduction. They use ABB’s six-axis industrial robot arms for their robot cells. Users have access to a thorough 3D printing workflow for pellets when combined with ABB 3D Printing Powerpac software.
The first industrial-scale robotic 3D printer was created by Orbital Composites. The maximum speed of this extraordinary robot is 2 m/s, its maximum payload is 10 kg and its maximum reach is 1.1 m. The Kuka KR10 R1100 robot arm is used to produce comparatively large end-use components. Kuka is also a recognised partner of the company.
The modern, high-performance, large-scale Pulsar plastic pellet extruder. Its sole purpose in design was to make it as fast and affordable as possible to 3D print huge parts. The machine has a maximum material output of 500 mm3/s (2.5 kg/h). The water cooling circuit ensures that the temperature of the system remains constant at all times. It can survive a 200°C environment with an additional thermal barrier.
Branch Technologies is a Belfast-based company with expertise in large-scale digital technologies, additive manufacturing and prefabrication. Its patented technology enables the group of designers and architects to conceptualise, conceive and ultimately build those structures that were previously impractical using conventional construction techniques. They used KUKA’s robotic technology, for example, to build a 3D printed pavilion as an example of a project they have completed.
When MX3D produced a fully 3D printed metal bridge, it caused quite a stir. It has become a popular choice in many sectors thanks to this and other significant achievements in metal 3D printing. In its M1 metal AM system, MX3D incorporates an 8-axis ABB industrial robot system. The part is created on schedule thanks to software that manages its WAAM-based systems.
NASA has chosen Composites Continuous to create structures for space applications. Comau’s printer uses high-performance composite materials and fast-curing thermosetting resins. The printer can be applied to projects of various sizes because it is customisable and scalable. It consistently generates 3D prints of the highest quality and precision.