Watch a Thermwood LSAM 1020 3D Print a Multi-Piece Foundry Pattern

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Mar 17, 2020

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Video, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, Pattern, Foundry, LSAM 1020

Thermwood recently completed a 3D printed multi-piece foundry pattern.  The pattern was printed on an LSAM 1020, and machined on a Thermwood 5 Axis Model 90 (because of other projects that were pending on the LSAM).

The pattern was printed out of ABS (20% carbon fiber fill).  Print time for the project was 6 hours and 40 minutes, and the trim time was a little over 47 hours with multiple fixture setups.

Click below to watch a video of the process:

The final pattern after trimming

The final pattern after trimming

The completed and assembled pattern.
The completed and assembled pattern.

About Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood will be exhibiting in next week's Aerodef show in Fort Worth, TX

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Mar 12, 2020

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Trade Shows, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, AeroDef


Thermwood LSAM Series Machines

Thermwood will be at AeroDef 2020Aerodef 2020 (March 17th and 18th) in Fort Worth, TX, starts next week, and Thermwood will be there (Booth #615) to talk LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing).

We will have the the 18 1/2 foot long Bell Helicopter Blade Mold on hand in addition to other 3D printed samples to see and touch as well as videos and literature.  Our knowledgeable sales staff will also be on hand to help answer any questions you may have about the future of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing and how the Thermwood LSAM can help your company charge ahead in this new area. 

18 1/2 foot long Bell Helicopter Blade Mold

About Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

 

Thermwood Announces Another New LSAM Model

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Mar 05, 2020

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, LSAM 1010

Thermwood recently announced the LSAM MT, a lower cost moving table version of its industry-leading LSAM (large scale additive system). Although Thermwood has hundreds of open moving table CNC routers in operation, similar in configuration to the MT, and believes this configuration will also work for many LSAM customers, several larger customers requested an enclosed machine configuration that is the same size as the MT, but configured like the larger LSAM high wall systems. 

To address this request for a lower cost enclosed machine, Thermwood has announced the LSAM 1010. This system uses the walls from the larger LSAM systems with the gantry, control and sub-systems from the MT.


The new LSAM 1010 has both the print and trim heads on same the gantry just like the LSAM MT.
The new LSAM 1010 has both the print and trim heads on same the gantry just like the LSAM MT.

The new LSAM 1010 has both the print and trim heads on same the gantry just like the LSAM MT.


The Details

A single moving gantry on the LSAM 1010 carries both the print and trim heads just like on the MT.
A single moving gantry on the LSAM 1010 carries both the print and trim heads just like on the MT.

The LSAM 1010 features a fixed 10 foot by 10 foot table. A single moving gantry carries both the print and trim heads as on the MT and, like the MT, it can both print and trim (but not at the same time). The print and trim heads on all Thermwood LSAMs are the same, so all machines can process virtually any reinforced composite thermoplastic materials available today.

The print and trim heads on all Thermwood LSAMs are the same, so all machines can process virtually any reinforced composite thermoplastic materials available today.
The print and trim heads on all Thermwood LSAMs are the same, so all machines can process virtually any reinforced composite thermoplastic materials available today.

Although the LSAM 1010 is slightly higher in price than the MT, it is noticeably less than the larger LSAMs and generally less than the cost and complexity of trying to add an external enclosure to the MT.

In addition, even though the LSAM 1010 is slightly wider than the larger LSAMs (to accommodate mounting both the print and trim heads on the same gantry), the overall footprint of the 1010 is actually slightly smaller than required for the MT. And, like the MT, the 1010 can be purchased as a print only machine. 

Thermwood believes that, since it is enclosed like the larger LSAMs, the LSAM 1010 can be built to meet European CE requirements, just like the larger machines.

With the introduction of the LSAM 1010, it is clear that Thermwood is committed to responding to customer requests and providing its industry-leading LSAM additive manufacturing technology in a variety of configurations to better fit varying customer requirements.

About Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

CGTech and Thermwood Team up to Simulate Additive & Hybrid Machining

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Feb 27, 2020

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, LSAM MT, CGTech, Vericut, Simulation

CGTech, makers of industry leading VERICUT software, has partnered with Thermwood to simulate both the additive 3-D Printing and subtractive machining capabilities of their LSAM machines.

LSAM is designed for large scale 3-D printing of thermoplastic polymers. Thermwood’s LSAM machines utilize unique patented technology to produce the highest quality thermoplastic polymer printed structures available. The machines feature both additive and subtractive heads to accommodate printing and trimming of large scale “near net shape” parts on the same machine. Thermwood’s LSAM machines are available in Dual Gantry and Moving Table models, in a variety of sizes. Both systems can process high temperature polymers which are ideal for autoclave capable tooling or compression molds for thermoset materials.

"We have over 55 patented features (and over a dozen more pending) that set the LSAM apart from any other large scale additive system available today.  Features like our chilled roller wheel, vertical layer printing system and LSAM Print 3D software make us the clear leader in large scale additive manufacturing,” says Dennis Palmer, Vice President of Sales at Thermwood. "VERICUT is an important tool to use with LSAM.  It assures that the tool path is correct, eliminating the possibility of expensive mishaps."

Vericut LSAM simulation

VERICUT's Additive module simulates both additive 3-D printing and traditional machining capabilities of hybrid CNC machines to verify that the full manufacturing process will work,and the finished part matches the intended engineered design. VERICUT simulates adding or cutting, in any sequence, making it the perfect solution for verification, simulation and optimization of Thermwood's industrial LSAM machines.

Vericut LSAM simulation

CGTech’s VERICUT Product Manger, Gene Granata, says “CGTech is thrilled to be working closely with the Thermwood team to provide the highest degree of simulation possible for their large scale additive machines. VERICUT’s Additive and hybrid simulation software is a perfect match for the LSAM’s highly versatile and capable environment."

Vericut LSAM simulation

To learn more about the partnership and see an LSAM simulation in action, click here.

About CGTech

About CGTechCGTech’s VERICUT® software is the standard for CNC simulation, verification, optimization, analysis, and additive manufacturing. CGTech also offers programming and simulation software for composites automated fiber-placement, tape-laying, and drilling/fastening CNC machines. VERICUT software is used by companies of different sizes in all industries. Established in 1988, and headquartered in Irvine, California; CGTech has offices worldwide. For more information: visit the CGTech website at cgtech.com, call (949) 753-1050, or email info@cgtech.com.

About Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.

Thermwood offers a full line of LSAM sizes to fit almost any application
LSAM line of Additive Manufacturing Machines


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood Introduces New LSAM Model

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Nov 18, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, LSAM MT

At its 50th Anniversary Gala Open House, Thermwood introduced and demonstrated an all new LSAM additive manufacturing machine model, offering even more choices for large scale additive manufacturing applications. Called LSAM MT, the new machine offers an all new configuration and significant advantages in certain applications.

Crowds watch the LSAM MT demonstration at the Thermwood 50th Anniversary Gala Open House

Crowds watch the LSAM MT demonstration at the Thermwood 50th Anniversary Gala Open House

Video

Please click below to see a video of the LSAM MT in action!

 

The Details

Unlike standard LSAM systems, which feature dual gantries operating over a large fixed table, the MT (which stands for “Moving Table”) features a single fixed gantry mounted over a moving table. Available with a 10x10 foot table, this configuration offers several significant advantages, not the least of which is a dramatically lower price.

Despite the lower price, the LSAM MT is still a massive, robust industrial production machine capable of reliable, day in and day out production. Unlike standard LSAM systems, the MT can be configured as a “Print Only” machine. The logic for this is simple.

Despite the lower price, the LSAM MT is still a massive, robust industrial production machine

Despite the lower price, the LSAM MT is still a massive, robust industrial production machine

New Options

Near net shape printed tools dramatically reduce machining time for many companies currently machining tools from solid blocks of material. This frees up significant machining capacity which is already purchased and installed. For these companies, it makes no sense to purchase additional machining capacity with their additive system, since the change to additive frees up more than enough existing capacity to handle everything they can print. With this in mind, Thermwood decided to offer both “Print and Trim” and a “Print Only” versions of the MT.

The MT is available with a 10 foot by 10 foot table. The 10 x 10 machine actually has a 10 x 12 foot table with a 10 x 10 working area. The extra 2 foot is used to mount an optional Vertical Layer Print table. The 10 x 10 foot MT can be equipped with a new version of Thermwood’s patented Vertical Layer Printing technology. This means that it can make parts up to 10'x10' by 5 foot high using traditional Horizontal Layer Printing or, 5'x10' by 10 foot high using Vertical Layer Printing.

Since the print technology and print heads used on the MT are the same as used on the larger machines it offers the same throughput, print quality and layer to layer fusion that has made LSAM the leader in large scale additive manufacturing. As with the larger systems, the MT can process high temperature polymers which are ideal for autoclave capable tooling or compression molds for thermoset materials.

The large demonstration part printed at the open house is one of twenty similar parts which when combined become a production mold for a large yacht hull

The large demonstration part printed at the open house is one of twenty similar parts which when combined become a production mold for a large yacht hull

With the same print technology as used on the larger LSAM machines, the MT offers the same throughput, print quality and layer to layer fusion that has made LSAM the leader in large scale additive manufacturing
With the same print technology as used on the larger LSAM machines, the MT offers the same throughput, print quality and layer to layer fusion that has made LSAM the leader in large scale additive manufacturing

The LSAM MT is the ideal additive machine for a variety of exciting new applications

The LSAM MT is the ideal additive machine for a variety of exciting new applications

Things to Consider

With the addition of the MT, selecting the best size and configuration for an LSAM may not be quite as straightforward as it first appears. It depends on two major factors plus some additional considerations. The major factors are the material being printed and the size of the parts needed. Of these two, the material being printed is the most significant.

Thermwood offers a full line of LSAM sizes to fit almost any application

Thermwood offers a full line of LSAM sizes to fit almost any application

For purposes of machine selection, reinforced thermoplastic composite materials for room temperature or low temperature applications such as foundry patterns, boat plugs, boat and yacht molds, building structures and the like can generally be bonded securely with a variety of industrial adhesives. For these type of parts, even for really large parts, the smaller less expensive machine may be a better choice. The part can be separated into sections which can be printed individually and bonded into the final, potentially extremely large structure.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, this approach can be faster than printing the large structure as a single piece on a larger, more expensive machine. To better understand this we turn to the basics of the print process. Additive manufactured parts are printed in layers. The speed at which a layer can be printed depends primarily on how long it takes for the polymer being printed to cool enough to support the next layer. This layer cooling time depends on the polymer and is not affected by the size of the part. Each layer of a particular polymer takes the same amount of time, regardless of how big it is.

LSAM print heads can print faster, sometimes significantly faster than needed for most parts. Often it can print two three or more parts in the cooling time required for each layer. The large machine is only printing a single part, one layer at a time, making it two or three time slower. To print the part in one piece, the large machine must operate continuously, around the clock, sometimes for days.  This is not a problem for factories that operate on all three shifts but can present staffing problems for single shift operations. With the MT, several different segments of the same part can often be printed in a single shift. Depending on the item being printed, it is possible to print as much in a single shift as the large machine, printing a single part, can do in 24 hours.

For large parts made from bondable materials, often the smaller, less expensive machine is a better choice.

Materials intended for high temperature applications, PSU, PESU, PEI, Ultem, etc. generally are resistant enough to solvents that they can’t be effectively bonded. Even if they could, few if any, adhesives exist that can withstand the operating temperature or the thermal cycling these materials experience. For these applications, the machine needs to be large enough to print the part in one piece, even though it could be slower. This is where larger machine configurations are needed. The larger machines also offer the ability to print and trim at the same time, which may be beneficial in some circumstances.

Since the print heads are the same on all Thermwood LSAMs, the smaller MT can be used for these high temperature parts, provided they fit in the available envelope.

Just like the standard LSAMs, the MT comes complete, fully engineered with everything needed for production operation. 

About Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.

10’ x 10’ LSAM MT (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing)
10’ x 10’ LSAM MT (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing)


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood and Purdue Successfully Compression Mold Parts Using Printed Tooling

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Nov 11, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Purdue, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, Compression


Thermwood and Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center have been working together to develop and test methods of using 3D printed composite molds for the compression molding of thermoset parts. They have just announced that they have successfully been able to compression mold test parts using 3D printed composite tooling.

Thermwood and Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center have been working together to develop and test methods of using 3D printed composite molds for the compression molding of thermoset parts. They have just announced that they have successfully been able to compression mold test parts using 3D printed composite tooling.

Final part has over 50% carbon fiber volume

The test part, a half scale thrust reverser blocker door for a jet engine, was designed at Purdue and is approximately 10x13x2 inch in size. The two-part matched compression mold for the part was 3D printed using Techmer PM 25% carbon fiber reinforced PESU at Thermwood, using its LSAM large scale additive manufacturing system.

The mold halves were then machined to final size and shape on the same system. The completed tool was next taken to Purdue’s Composite Manufacturing & Simulation Center, in West Lafayette Indiana, where it was mounted to their 250 ton compression press. Parts were then molded from Dow’s new Vorafuse prepreg platelet material system with over 50% carbon fiber volume fraction.

The Details

Both halves of the mold were printed at the same time during a single 2 hour and 34 minute print cycle. When using Thermwood’s “continuous cooling” print process, the polymer cooling determines the cycle time for each layer, allowing both halves to be printed in the same time it would take to print one half (since both parts could be printed in the layer cooling time available).

Both halves of the mold were printed in less then 3 hours

Both halves of the mold were printed in less than 3 hours

Machining, however, must be done in the traditional manner, one part at a time, although there is an advantage to machining printed parts. Since the part is printed to near net shape, the overall amount of material that must be removed is significantly less than if the tool was machined from a solid block. Machining of the two mold halves required an additional 27 hours.

The first attempt at compression molding was not successful, but techniques were developed to account for the mechanical and thermal conductivity characteristics of the polymer print material and a second attempt produced acceptable parts.

The team determined that using printed composite molds in a compression press does require a significantly different approach than a tool for the same part machined from a block of metal. First, the tool must be internally heated since the polymer composite doesn’t transmit heat as well as metal. Thermwood developed a technique for deep hole boring of the printed composite part using the trim head on its LSAM machine, allowing the deep insertion of cartridge heaters.

A special heat control allows the temperature of various areas of the tool to be controlled independently, helping address the challenge of balancing the thermal characteristics of the thermoplastic composite mold with the processing temperature requirements of the thermoset material being processed.

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Printed polymer composite mold must be heated and reinforced

Also, the outside of the mold must be reinforced so that the composite polymer used for the mold itself is under only compression loads and not tension during the molding operation, since forces developed during molding are greater than the tensile strength of the composite polymers used for the mold. This approach has successfully withstood molding pressure of 1,500 PSI during initial testing and the team believes even higher pressures are possible.

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Parts were made on Purdue’s 250 ton compression press

Final Thoughts

Both Thermwood and Purdue believe this is an important first step in bringing additive manufacturing to compression molding. The speed and relatively low cost of printed compression tools has the potential to significantly modify current industry practices. Printed tools are ideal for prototyping and can potentially avoid problems with long lead time, expensive production tools by validating the design before a final version is built.

Additional development effort will be needed to further refine tool design and broaden the range of parts that this process will support, but all parties involved believe that this project demonstrates the viability of the basic approach.

Potential applications in the auto industry include prototyping and production tool verification. Because of high volume requirements for auto production, it is unlikely that these tools would function adequately for full production use, but actual useful production life is still unknown. It will require additional testing to determine just how many parts can be molded from an additive manufactured compression mold and what the ultimate failure mode actually is.

In aerospace, parts tend to be much larger and production volumes much lower, so it is possible that printed compression molds could find actual production use for larger, lower volume aerospace components, perhaps replacing open face tools and autoclaves for certain parts.

The relatively low cost and fast build rate of these additive molds significantly alters the decision matrix and timeline for developing new products using compression molding.

Purdue’s Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center

The Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center (CMSC) is a bridge between the academic and industrial communities, connecting the global composites industry and Indiana manufacturing to Purdue University.  The CMSC research is driven by industry needs and grounded in academic rigor.  Global sponsors and partners include aerospace and automotive OEMs, Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, materials suppliers, wind turbine manufacturers, and commercial software providers.  The CMSC is a collaboration of the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and is a Purdue University Center of Excellence.

State-of-the-art manufacturing and characterization facilities provide a one-stop-shop for composites design, manufacturing, prototyping and model validation.  Finally, the CMSC is dedicated to training engineers across the entire composites community in composites manufacturing and simulation.

Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood is a US based, multinational, diversified CNC machinery manufacturer that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries. Thermwood is the oldest manufacturer of highly flexible 3 & 5 axis high-speed machining centers known as CNC routers.

Thermwood has also become the technology and market leader in large scale additive manufacturing systems for thermoplastic composite molds, tooling, patterns and parts with its line of LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines that both 3D print and trim on the same machine. These are some of the largest and most capable additive manufacturing systems ever produced and are marketed to major companies in the aerospace, marine, automotive and foundry industries as well as military, government and defense contractors.

Thermwood 10'x20' LSAM

10’ x 20’ LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing)


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Another Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' is Ready to Ship Out!

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Oct 11, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing

Another Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' featuring optional VLP (Vertical Layer Printing) capability is ready to be packed up and shipped out! Look how small this massive LSAM makes the Model 70 10'x30' in production next to it look!
More Info on LSAM: http://bit.ly/2KheM0r

Overhead view of another 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM ready to be packed up and shipped out!
Overhead view of another 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM ready to be packed up and shipped out!


Some of the guys who helped build this latest LSAM pose with the machine.
Some of the guys who helped build this latest LSAM pose with the machine.


Looking down the table from the trim side to the print side of this 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.
Looking down the table from the trim side to the print side of this 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.


Optional VLP (Vertical Layer Printing) on this latest 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.
Optional VLP (Vertical Layer Printing) on this latest 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.


Perspective!
Perspective!


Another view from the trim side of this latest 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.
Another view from the trim side of this latest 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.


Look how small this massive LSAM makes the Model 70 10'x30' in production next to it look!Look how small this massive LSAM makes the Model 70 10'x30' in production next to it look!


LSAM_DRIVE_BY

A quick side-view of this latest 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM.


More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Thermwood has already applied for over 45 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (more than half of which have already been granted) and more will be coming as development continues. LSAM is truly “state of the art” in this exciting new world of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing. 

LSAM produces superior printed parts.

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Dimensional Innovations now has Kansas City’s biggest 3-D printer

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, May 13, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Dimensional Innovations, Kansas City


Dimensional Innovations now has Kansas City’s biggest 3-D printer

Overland Park-based Dimensional Innovations unveiled its newest piece of equipment, a $2.2 million 3-D printer and five-axis router that can make items 10 feet wide, 20 feet long and 5 feet high.

Dimensional Innovations now owns the largest 3-D printer in the Kansas City area.

Dimensional Innovations now owns the largest 3-D printer in the Kansas City area.


©2019 Kansas City Buiness Journal.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission

(Note this article was originally published on May 2nd, 2019, here)


Produced by Thermwood, the equipment is known as a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine. It can produce huge components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials. It’s the only one of its kind in the Kansas City area and one of only a handful currently in use in the U.S.

“Within the design, architecture and construction space, we’re not aware of anyone else who has this capability,” Dimensional Innovations CEO Tucker Trotter said. “There is not really someone else we can look to for examples on how to use this equipment, so we’re going to have to define that. It puts pressure on our team because there aren’t answers yet, but it also opens up incredible opportunities.”

Trotter said the purchase of the LSAM was driven by a secret project DI isn't allowed to discuss at this time, for production of a large-scale, iconic element. It had limitations on weight, needed to be prefabricated so it could be assembled in the field, had to be strong enough to meet wind load and had fire-proofing requirements.

“I went into the discussion for this project thinking it was really not a good fit for us,” Trotter said. “I couldn’t see how we could do it. But the culture at DI is so cool that we had people here who didn’t take no for an answer and spoke up saying they thought we could do it and here’s how. It started as a crazy idea, but now that we’ve got this equipment, I think it’s really going to advance who we are and how we’re seen by a lot of people.”

The company's growth made the addition possible. DI's business had outgrown its headquarters at 3421 Merriam Drive in Overland Park, so it moved the sign fabrication business to a new shop at 15500 W. 108th St. in Lenexa. That created room at the headquarters, allowing the company to buy the LSAM. It also is allowing DI to start building out about 50 new offices inside the headquarters, creating room to hire more designers and sales people.

DI has also been expanding into other cities, opening offices in Atlanta, Minneapolis and, most recently, Los Angeles.

“The smaller satellite offices have been low risk, and they’ve been very successful,” Trotter said. “We like that and will continue to do that. It puts our people and brainpower closer to projects.”

It also helps the company attract more talent, which in turn leads to more work.


About Dimensional Innovations

Dimensional Innovations - Dimensional Innovations is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary firm that creates dynamic, engaging and interactive solutions that bring brands to life.  DI helps businesses develop exceptional brand experiences to captivate and engage their target market. Works with clients that include 50,000 seat stadiums and history museums to create experiences customers will love. Focuses on the sports, corporate, student life and entertainment industries.

More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Much of the technology used in Thermwood’s LSAM machines and print process is completely new. Thermwood has already received numerous patents on these revolutionary developments and many more are in the works. In addition to the projects already announced, many other exciting results that LSAM has already achieved are covered by non-disclosure agreements and must be kept secret. LSAM is truly state-of-the-art in the exciting new world of large scale additive manufacturing.

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood and Bell 3D Print Helicopter Blade Mold

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Feb 07, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Bell, Bell Helicopter, Bell Flight, Helicopter

A joint venture program between Thermwood and Bell has pushed the limits of 3D printing, resulting in what Thermwood believes is the largest 3D printed autoclave capable tool ever made. 

The first half of an 18 foot helicopter blade mold that was 3D Printed on a Thermwood LSAM in just over 3 hours.

The first half of an 18 foot helicopter blade mold that was 3D Printed in just over 3 hours


A common limiting factor within aerospace development programs is expensive, long-lead time tooling.  Bell, not being satisfied abiding by the industry norms, decided to reach out to Thermwood to help solve this challenge.

Glenn Isbell quote regarding Thermwood's LSAM

Video

The Challenge

Shortly after initial conversations with Bell, the Thermwood team offered an opportunity of a partnership centering around the capabilities of their new 60mm melt core technology.  The original challenge for quickly and affordably manufacturing large bond tooling seemed closer to reality than ever before. 

Bell responded to this opportunity in kind by providing Thermwood a model of a closed cavity blade mold measuring approximately 20 feet long, 14 inches wide and 17 inches high. 

The basic tooling requirements were as follows:

  • Must to be printed in one continuous run for vacuum integrity
  • Surface finish must be 32 RMS or better
  • Tooling must be able to withstand 90 psi at 360°F. 
  • Tight tolerances and features were also required to ensure proper mating of the two blade mold halves.

The Process

Upon receiving the model and requirements, the Thermwood team sprang into action. Utilizing their new 60mm melt core technology, they began to print the tool using TechmerPM’s 25% Carbon Fiber reinforced PESU (Polyethersulfone) in one continuous run. Working closely with Thermwood, Techmer has formulated this material specifically for LSAM additive printing.

The printable material has a Glass Transition Temperature of over 400°F and can easily survive common aerospace component cure cycles of up to 360°F, at 90psi. The combination of Techmer's new materials and Thermwood's printing technology, resulted in a print time of one tool half in just 3 hours 8 minutes and an “as printed” weight of 542 pounds.

Thermwood technicians claim the Techmer PESU material prints as easily as ABS, although at a much higher temperature, allowing quality autoclave-capable molds to be made from the high temperature polymer.

Thermwood LSAM 3D Printing an 18 ft helicopter blade mold

This extraordinary achievement was made possible by a new, larger melt core recently installed on Thermwood’s LSAM system at its Development/Demonstration Lab in Southern Indiana. The standard LSAM machine print head housing can be equipped with different capacity melt cores, each offering different minimum and maximum throughputs.

Continuous Cooling Print Process

With Thermwood’s room temperature “Continuous Cooling” print process, the cycle time for each layer is determined solely by how long it takes a particular printed polymer to cool to the proper temperature to accept the next layer.

Only by printing at the proper temperature can you achieve a totally fused, void-free printed structure that will maintain vacuum in an autoclave without a coating. The print head output determines how much material can be printed during the time it takes for the layer to cool. Bigger print heads mean larger parts, not necessarily faster layer to layer print time.

LSAM Print 3D software infared camera view.

Thermographic view of the part being printed

The new 60mm melt core has a measured maximum output of 480 to 570 pounds per hour depending on the polymer being printed and can print over 100 feet of typical print bead (.830” x .200”) per minute. This high print rate, even when processing high temperature material, allows the print bead to be oriented along the length of the tool. This is desirable for Bell, who manufactures large composite parts, because thermal expansion is significantly lower in that direction, minimizing expansion and contraction of the tool with temperature changes.

Internal Printed Support Structure

Another interesting feature of this tool is that the internal printed structure supports the mold without actually contacting or touching the back side of the mold cavity. This means air can flow freely under the entire formed part in the autoclave, making the part curing process easier and more consistent. The ability to incorporate a complex internal design, such as this, is another major advantage of using additive manufacturing for this type of tooling.

Internal 3D Printed support structure in a 18 foot hellicopter blade mold on a Thermwood LSAM

3D printed internal support structures

Thermwood’s LSAM Print 3D slicing software specifically supports programming of involved internal structures such as these.

Internal support structure shown on LSAM Print 3D software.

Internal support structure shown on LSAM Print 3D software.

Internal support structure shown on LSAM Print 3D software.

Internal support structures in  LSAM Print 3D slicing software


Bell Investigates Multiple Manufacturing Processes

Bell is continuing to investigate integrated technologies that support multiple manufacturing processes and tools.  The LSAM is capable of supporting printing processes as well as trim and drill processes to meet aerospace specifications.  Once printed, the team began to machine the bond tool half by utilizing the other aspect of the LSAM system.  The total machining time of the lower blade mold half was 40 hours.  

James Cordell quote regarding Thermwood's LSAM

The completed bond tool was able to maintain Bell’s vacuum standards required for autoclave processing right from the machine, without the need for a seal coating

Part maintaining vacuum during extended testing

Part maintaining vacuum during extended testing

The part steadily holding vacuum during testing

The part steadily holding vacuum during testing


Next Steps

The Thermwood team will print the second half of the blade mold, with the intention of having Bell cure a full molded blade within the final additively-manufactured bond tool, another first.  Further testing will be completed by both Thermwood and Bell teams on PESU printed molds, to continue innovating in this space. 

Final Thoughts

Ken Susnjara Quote on Bell

Thermwood believes recent LSAM technology advances such as Vertical Layer Printing and Changeable Melt Cores (coupled with polymers specially tailored for LSAM processing), are opening exciting new possibilities for additive production of even larger and more technically complex components.

More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Much of the technology used in Thermwood's LSAM machines and print process is completely new. Thermwood has already received numerous patents on these revolutionary developments and many more are in the works.

LSAM is the Leader in Large Scale Additive Sales

In the last year, Thermwood's LSAM additive manufacturing systems were the clear market leaders in the sale of large scale 3D printing systems for thermoplastic composite materials, selling virtually all systems in the US during the year.

LSAM is truly state-of-the-art in the exciting new world of large scale additive manufacturing.

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

TAHOE Boats Newest Design Uses 3D LSAM Printed Tooling

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Jan 10, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, T16, White River, Bass Pro, TAHOE Boats

TAHOE Boats, Springfield, MO. formally announced the all-new, revolutionary T16 boat design, engineered with families in mind. Using innovative technology, the T16 delivers an unprecedented lightweight design and affordability with an uncompromising commitment to quality and performance.

One factor that made this boat possible is that the T16 was designed and built in the U.S. leveraging innovative Thermwood LSAM techniques never before used in the marine industry.

White River Marine Group, the marine manufacturing arm of Bass Pro Shops, worked with Thermwood, utilizing Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system and the latest in LSAM technology to custom-print the tool used to manufacture the boat’s hull – the first time 3D printing has been used on actual boat production at this scale.

This boat-building advancement led to greater efficiency in the planning, design and construction of the T16.

Tahoe Boats T16, which was designed and built in the US.

The Process

Thermwood printed the master pattern for the boat hull at its Development/Demonstration Labs is Dale, Indiana. The pattern was printed in six sections from 20% carbon fiber filled ABS supplied by Techmer PM, who was an active partner in the program. The joints between the pieces were machined, pinned and bonded together and the assembled hull machined to final size and shape. The entire process required only ten days to complete.

T16 Master Pattern being machined on Thermwood LSAM

After printing and machining, the tool was sent to White River, where they applied, sanded and polished a proprietary coating, which they developed earlier, using previously printed parts supplied by Thermwood.

TAHOE Boats T16 Master Pattern 3D Printed on a Thermwood LSAM

Prior to this public introduction, Thermwood was able to use images and videos of the process, which have been on our web site for some time now, however, we respected a request not to disclose the participants or final use of the tool until the boat was publicly released by White River Marine Group.


Tahoe Boats T16, which was designed and built in the US.


Please Click to View Video of the Entire Process

LSAM 3D Printed Marine Boat Hull Pattern

Current Technology Speeds The Process Up Even More

An interesting note is that this type of tool can be produced in even less time with current technology. Using Thermwood’s Vertical Layer Printing (which wasn’t available at the time this tool was made), this type of pattern can now be printed as one piece in just over two days, eliminating the machining between sections and the bonding process. This should cut build time almost in half.

Ken Susnjara on additive manufacturing in the marine industry.

Master patterns, such as this, are used to make molds for high production rates where multiple molds are required. For larger boats or lower production rates, it may be possible to print the mold itself rather than a pattern from which multiple molds are made. Thermwood has also been working on this approach and has recently announced the successful production of a seven foot long, 1/7 scale model of a yacht hull mold using Vertical Layer Printing. Work continues in both these areas.

Even at this early stage of development it is apparent that large scale additive manufacturing could have a dramatic, perhaps even a transformational impact on production methods used in the marine industry, significantly reducing tooling cost and dramatically speeding up the tool building process.

About TAHOE Boats

TAHOE is part of the White River Marine Group family of brands, Bass Pro’s marine manufacturing arm and the largest builder of boats in the world by volume. In addition to TAHOE, White River Marine manufactures America’s favorite boat brands including MAKO, NITRO, RANGER, REGENCY SUN TRACKER, TRACKER, TRITON and others. All White River Marine boats are proudly manufactured in the U.S.

About Techmer PM

Techmer PM is a leading materials design company and works in deep partnership with plastics processors, OEMs, and designers to solve some of their most difficult business, manufacturing, and sustainability challenges. For more than 30 years, they have helped consumer and industrial product manufacturers achieve the finest color, texture, appearance, and functional enhancements for a variety of product applications. Techmer PM is a family-owned company that’s based in Clinton, Tennessee where they operate their largest production facility, as well as five others throughout the U.S. They have been a pioneer in developing polymers for large scale additive manufacturing applications.

More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Much of the technology used in Thermwood’s LSAM machines and print process is completely new. Thermwood has already received numerous patents on these revolutionary developments and many more are in the works. In addition to the projects already announced, many other exciting results that LSAM has already achieved are covered by non-disclosure agreements and must be kept secret. LSAM is truly state-of-the-art in the exciting new world of large scale additive manufacturing.

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM