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Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer

The Stsratasys is not an ordinary 3D printer that creates one small part in a little box. It is essentially a 3D printer on its side - it extrudes a theoretically infinite object. Or, maybe, a car.


(Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer)

Still considered to be in beta -- or even alpha -- stage, this room-sized prototype at Ford's Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, is the product of lateral thinking. Unlike conventional 3D printers that build upward layer by layer, the Stratasys works sideways, which means it can produce much larger objects, theoretically infinite in size. Since the machine works in this manner, its printing process is totally different, in part because it has to layer in support structures for the object it's creating first.

Unlike most commercial printers, the Stratasys doesn't use the filament-like material line feed you're probably thinking of. Instead, it employs a proprietary micro-pellet powder that's almost like sand. The thermoplastic, pelletized material is fed along a screw drive, and heated until liquefaction before it's before shot out of a print head (not unlike an injection-molding tool). A robotic arm refills material canisters when needed, which means the machine can operate on big jobs for many hours or even days.

Philip K. Dick's many fans know about the Biltong life forms from his 1956 short story Pay for the Printer. These strange creatures from the Centaurus system could effectively "print out" a duplicate of a reference object placed before them. One of the examples - an automobile.

The Biltongs are perhaps the earliest example of the idea that it would be possible to make copies of three-dimensional objects directly, without the usual processes of manufacturing and assembly.

"Can your Biltong print for more than a hundred people?" John Dawes asked softly.

"Right now he can," Fergesson answered. He proudly indicated his Buick. "You rode in it - you know how good it is. Almost as good as the original it was printed from…"

Via Road Show.

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