One of the major limitations with additive manufacturing is the ability to print large parts. Most 3D printing technologies have a relatively small print bed that requires larger parts to be sectioned and then attached together.
There are issues with printing large parts in sections. The first problem is that it can be difficult to get the sections perfectly aligned. Many times the print is left with a visible seam which can affect the overall aesthetics of the piece. It is possible to mask the seam, but it requires lengthy post processing techniques.
The second issue I have found is the strength of the sectioned parts. Inherently the seams on a multiple piece print are the weak points in the design. If the part is designed to take any stresses or have any functionality, the seam will fail before anything else. Many applications would require a large format 3D printer, but few companies have them at their disposal.
There aren’t a lot of technology options when it comes to the ability to print large parts. Typically these large print beds have been reserved for production grade machines. The Stratasys Fortus 900mc is a production printer using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, and It offers a large build size of 36” x 24” x 36”. The 3D Systems ProX 950 is a production device using Steriolithography (SLA) technology, with a huge bed size of 59”x 30”x 22”.
There are a lot of reasons outside of bed size that makes these production machines so great, but throughput is an important factor. The greatest hurdle for companies to acquire these machines is cost.
The 3D Platform 3DP1000 is a large format FDM 3D printer that offers a large bed size of 39.4” x 39.4” x 19.7”. What sets this printer apart from the production machines is the cost. The 3DP1000 is 10 to 30 times less expensive than the production machines with similar bed sizes. This is allowing companies that require large format 3d printing to be able to print their parts in one piece, without the expense of a production 3D printer.