3D Printing

Continuous 3D printing tech A 3D printer with a conveyor belt system has the ability to print with an “unlimited” length on the belt axis or even the ability to process continuous prints without interruption.

Continuous 3D printing tech

3D printing is now possible using relatively small and low-cost machines, it is generally a slow process with some size limitations. This is because 3D printers require a series of steps to cure, refill, and reposition themselves for each additive cycle. Several companies have developed in the past years several methods to try and overcome this limitations, one of the methods we will show in this article is specially made to have an “infinite” axis of print size.

Back in 2017 BlackBelt released a 3D printer that combines 3 print heads with a conveyor belt system. (3dforms.co.za).

3D printers with a similar configuration as the previously shown, have max printing size limitations on X-Y axis but with the Z-axis, taking the form of a conveyor belt, allows for theoretically infinite sized horizontal parts or even a continuous production of 3D printed parts without the need for interaction of another mechanism to remove finished prints.

Possibilities with a conveyor belt configuration on the z axis. (Powerbelt3D).

Unlike regular FDM 3D printers, this setup uses tilted nozzles when printing. This configuration brings several advantages on the final print and the geometrical limitations of the 3D print, including for less support material needed in most prints, especially with more extreme overhangs that can be 3D printed, but there are some more other simpler limitations.

The new obtained infill pattern helps for rigidity on most designs, also helps reduce the layer adhesion issues generated on regular FDM printers. (Powerbelt3D).

Some limitations of this 3D printer configuration are bed adhesion, compatible filament materials (ABS is not suitable for this method), and one of the more complex is the Printing software, Conveyor belt 3D printers require special modified versions of the already available slicing software, they require several parameters modified in order to work correctly, but most of the already available conveyor belt 3D printers come with the proper documentation.

There are several 3D printers out there with a conveyor belt configuration, most recently, Creality launched their own variant, the 3DPrintMill (CR-30), a conveyor belt 3D printer with a resolution of 100 micrometers.

The CR-30 has the possibility of a roller attachment for extra-long 3D prints. (Powerbelt3D).

Blackbelt 3D has been around for a while and their conveyor belt 3D printers have great quality and support, they took 3 years to develop their first conveyor belt printer and are currently the brand with the widest and highest printing area with 340mm on each axis plus the infinite “z-axis” length.

Blackbelt also sells a roller attachment for extra-long 3D prints. (Blackbelt3D).

So, why buy a conveyor belt 3D printer?

There are several reasons why, but the main ones are the capability of serial and semi-automated production and the ability to print parts that are larger than the printer itself.

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