What is Large Scale Additive Manufacturing and what is it used for?
Large Scale Additive Manufacturing or LSAM for short is in essence the biggest kind of 3D printer available. As its name suggests it starts with nothing and adds materials rather than traditional methods of starting with a large block of material and cutting it down to size.
Rather than scaling up small production 3D printing machines to produce something bigger, the LSAM has been designed for industrial scale production of components. Whether it is rapid prototypes or a final part, the LSAM delivers on reducing costs and speeding up production times.
3D printing the part from thermoplastic polymers layer by layer almost to the exact size the LSAM reduces waste by up to 60%. Once printed the part is trimmed to its final size on a second gantry allowing everything to happen on one machine, resulting in a faster processing time and much lower materials costs.
Because of its size and capabilities, the LSAM is mainly being used across the aerospace, automotive, construction and defence industries having created helicopter blades, a full-scale electric bus and a working submarine nose to name a few past projects.
The Thermwood LSAM in action
Thermwood worked with Bell to 3D print a helicopter blade mould. With strict model requirements and the need for the mould to be printed in one continuous run for vacuum integrity Thermwood used their patented melt core technology which assists in the bonding process to print part one in just over three hours.
Within aerospace there is often a long lead time on new tooling and moulds. “Being able to print, machine, and utilise tooling in weeks in lieu of months will revolutionise the way we work going forward.” James Cordell, Manager of Manufacturing Innovation at Bell. Read the full case study here.