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 either a 10x5 foot or 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 in two table sizes, 10 foot wide by 5 foot deep, and 10 foot by 10 foot. 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

Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing and Thermwood Partner on Low Cost Responsive Tooling Program

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Aug 08, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Additive, LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Boeing, Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory

The United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Division (ManTech) is interested in large scale polymer-based additively manufactured (AM) composite cure tooling. Boeing submitted an idea to ManTech’s Open BAA to evaluate the current state of additive manufacturing technology with respect to the fabrication of low cost autoclave capable tools for the production of composite aerospace components. The initial demo tool is for an AFRL concept aircraft fuselage skin (Figure 1). Boeing contracted Thermwood to demonstrate capability of their Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine.  

Air Force Research Laboratory Conceptual Aircraft & Full-Scale Tool

Figure 1: Air Force Research Laboratory Conceptual Aircraft & Full-Scale Tool


Please click below for video


The Thermwood LSAM machine offers an innovative additive manufacturing machine capability with its Vertical Layer Printing (VLP). The vertical layer printing AM process provides a significant cost benefit by increasing the size components can be printed, thus reducing assembly cost for large tools. To validate the VLP process using high temperature autoclave-capable materials, Boeing and AFRL chose to 3D print a section of the large tool to evaluate the LSAM functionality. The Mid-Scale tool was printed on Thermwood’s LSAM  Additive Manufacturing Demonstration machine in Southern Indiana using a 40mm print core running 25% carbon fiber reinforced Polyethersulfone (PESU).

Mid-Scale Tool 3D Printing on Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM)
Figure 2: Mid-Scale Tool 3D Printing on Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM)

The initial test tool has the same width, height and bead path as the final mold, incorporates all major features of the final mold, but compressed in length being only 4 feet long. The final tool will be over 10 feet long. The Mid-Scale tool set a milestone achievement as the first high temperature tool printed using the VLP system. The Mid-Scale tool required 5 hours, 15 minutes to print with a print weight of 367 lbs. After final machining, the tool was probed for surface profile and tested for vacuum integrity. The tool passed room temperature vacuum test and achieved dimensional surface profile tolerances. The Full-Scale tool will weigh approximately 1400 pounds and require 18 hours to print.

Machining (left) and Probe (right) operation on a Thermwood LSAMFigure 3: Machining (left) and Probe (right) operation on a Thermwood LSAM

The program is progressing to the next step, producing a full size tool. Boeing and the Air Force are carefully documenting all operational parameters of the project to transition the technology to production programs. Additive manufactured autoclave tooling offers significant advantages over traditional methods of producing these tools. 3D printed tooling is less expensive and can be fabricated in days or weeks rather than months.

AFRL is very interested in tooling approaches for the Low-Cost Attributable Technology (LCAAT) program which has a goal to break the cost growth curve and field new systems faster.  AFRL Program Manager Andrea Helbach says, “We are interested in additively manufactured tooling’s ability to reduce the cost and time to procure autoclave capable tooling.  Additionally, AM tooling supports changes in vehicle design with minimal non-recurring expenses.” 

“Future fielded low cost, but capable UAV’s will need a responsive materials and manufacturing processes strategy” says Craig Neslen, LCAAT Initiative Manufacturing Lead.  “Additive manufactured composite tooling is one of many technologies being evaluated to ensure the industrial base can handle future manufacturing surge requirements as well as accommodate periodic system tech refresh activities which could necessitate minor vehicle design changes at an acceptable cost.”  


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 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (several 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. 

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

Ascent Aerospace Invests in Additive Manufacturing

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jul 17, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Why Purchase a Thermwood, Additive, LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Ascent Aerospace

Ascent Aerospace Invests in Thermwood LSAM Additive Manufacturing

Santa Ana, CA - July 2019 – Ascent Aerospace, a leading provider of aerospace tooling systems, factory automation and integration solutions, is excited to announce its recent investment of a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine from Thermwood Corporation, a technology leader and manufacturer of CNC and 3D printing equipment based in Dale, IN.

With a 10’ x 40’ fabrication area, Ascent’s LSAM machine will be the largest available in the aerospace market, allowing for both the printing and machining of a wide range of thermoplastic composite materials.

With a 10’ x 40’ fabrication area, Ascent’s LSAM machine will be the largest available in the aerospace market, allowing for both the printing and machining of a wide range of thermoplastic composite materials.

The use of 3D printing in the aerospace tooling sector has continued to mature over the last several years and is accelerating in usage; with this, Ascent Aerospace plans to answer the industry's call and take additive technology to a new level by leveraging its deep expertise in tooling to commercialize production ready additive solutions. As a new tooling option for its customers, Ascent intends to utilize the LSAM machine to bring tools such as layup molds, masters, trimming/drilling fixtures and vacuum holding fixtures to market faster than ever before. The LSAM machine will be co-located with Ascent's composite tooling shop, autoclave and clean room in Santa Ana, California, and will allow Ascent to build targeted tools lighter and more efficiently, providing time and cost savings to its global customers.

The LSAM machine will have an industry leading build area, providing aerospace customers the opportunity to benefit from large-scale printed composite tooling. By combining this technology with Ascent's in-house tooling expertise and heritage engineering, it will be possible to fabricate and deliver fully functional select fixtures and molds with significantly reduced lead-times of a traditional metallic tool. The wide variety of materials that are compatible with the LSAM, such as ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon, and PESU resins with reinforcing compounds, will further expand the selection of tooling solutions that Ascent will bring to the market. 

Michael Mahfet, the CEO of Ascent Aerospace, stated, "Our investment in the LSAM represents the next milestone in Ascent's multi-year technology roadmap and realization of expansive efforts studying the benefits of additive manufacturing within the aerospace tooling market. This capability positions us to remain the leader in new and innovative tooling solutions, supporting strong collaboration with our customers and supplementing our in-house, vertically integrated design and fabrication capabilities."

Ascent Aerospace is committed to challenging the industry norms, improving manufacturing processes and providing customers with the best solutions to meet their demands.

About Ascent Aerospace

Ascent Aerospace is a world renowned, single-source provider of production and automated assembly systems for the aerospace and defense industry. As the largest tooling group in the industry, Ascent produces a full suite of both mold and assembly tooling required for the aerospace manufacturing market, including the largest Invar molds ever made for aerospace.  As an automation provider and production system integrator, Ascent works with customers to develop their project and see it through from process engineering, to build and installation to ensure it is an efficient and cost effective solution. Visit www.ascentaerospace.com for more information.

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

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

Thermwood Announces New, Higher Capacity Melt Core for its LSAM Print Head

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Dec 18, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Melt Core

Thermwood has completed initial testing of a larger melt core for its LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) systems and the results are stunning.

Ken Susnjara Quote - LSAM 60mm Melt Core

 

Print up to 570 pounds per hour

Thermwood’s additive print head housing can accommodate interchangeable melt cores.  A melt core consists of a feed housing, extruder and polymer melt pump and determines just how fast material can be printed.

The standard 40mm melt core has a maximum output of between 190 and 210 pounds per hour, depending on the polymer being printed, which translates to 40 - 50 feet of standard bead (0.83”x0.20”) per minute.

The new 60mm melt core has been tested with different polymers and has achieved print rates from 480 to 570 pounds per hour, which translates to well over 100 feet of bead per minute.

More Info

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 when the previously printed layer is within the proper temperature range can you achieve a completely solid, void free printed structure that maintains vacuum in an autoclave without a secondary coating. This is as fast as you can print a layer.

The print head output then determines how much material can be printed during the time it takes for the layer to cool. Bigger print heads mean bigger parts not faster layer to layer print time.

“This new development opens a new world of additive manufacturing possibilities” says Thermwood’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, Ken Susnjara. “This is one of the most exciting advances we have achieved to date and now we can do things we couldn’t even consider before”.

New Possibilities

For example, Thermwood recently announced Vertical Layer Printing which allows parts to be printed that are as long as the machine table. In this process, however, the layer stack direction is along the length of the part. This works well for room temperature or low temperature patterns, fixtures and molds, however, for high temperature molds, for use in an autoclave for example, the thermal expansion (CTE) along the stack direction is as much as 20 times greater than along the bead direction. Therefore, it is desirable to print long tools with the bead oriented in the long direction, however, print heads, even Thermwood’s 200 pound per hour head, currently the largest in the industry, have been too slow for this…until now.

The high print rate of the new melt core, even when processing high temperature materials, allows the print bead to be oriented along the length of the tool, even for tools that are as long as the machine table itself.

Melt Core Changeover in One Shift

In addition to a maximum speed, each melt core has a minimum speed at which it can continuously print. Parts with bead lengths smaller than this minimum, require the print head to move to a “Hot Hold” area where it runs at a slow maintenance speed, spilling material at a slow rate until the required cooling time has been achieved. This wastes material and means the larger melt core may not be desirable for all applications. Many tools and molds are just too small for efficient printing with the larger core.

If a user needs both small and large parts on the same machine, the melt cores can be switched in less than a shift.

Thermwood LSAM 40mm Melt Core Changeover to 60mm Melt Core

Final Thoughts

Thermwood believes the next step in this development is to address the challenge of really long autoclave capable tooling. Be assured, work in this area has already begun.

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 Validates Additive Production of Yacht Hull Molds

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Dec 04, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Mold, Yacht

Thermwood has already 3D printed a full size pattern which was used to produce production sport boat hull molds. Much larger vessels, yachts for example, require a different approach. In these instances, it is desirable to print the mold itself rather than print a plug or pattern from which a mold is made.

Working with an undisclosed marine industry collaborator, Thermwood has printed a scale model of such a hull mold to test and validate the process.

Video

island-aire-lsam-timelapse-ver1

Printing The Mold Itself - No Plug/Pattern Necessary

The 1/7th scale test mold for this project is approximately seven feet long (the full size hull is approximately 50 foot). It was printed from 20% carbon fiber filled ABS using Thermwood’s LSAM additive manufacturing machine.

Six separate pieces of different lengths, the longest two, each being over seven feet long, were printed concurrently using LSAM’s Vertical Layer Print capability. Printing required about 30 1/2 hours.

The ability to simultaneously print multiple parts of variable heights highlights the flexibility of both the vertical print process as well as Thermwood’s LSAM Print3D slicing software. The parts were then trimmed on the same machine and assembled into two mold halves.

More Details

The tool includes a deep undercut at the transom, so the finished mold needs to be two pieces, split down the middle. These mold halves are clamped together for layup and then separated to remove the finished hull after curing.

Molds for hulls of longer than fifty feet will be printed in multiple sections, assembled for hull layup and then disassembled to remove the finished part. The test tool printed here simulates that assembly and disassembly process.

Thermwood LSAM Yacht mold split down the middle
 
Thermwood LSAM Yacht mold split down the middle

The tool printed in this program will be tested using production materials in a production environment. Thermwood continues to work on methods and techniques needed to refine this into a production ready process.

Thermwood believes that the marine industry will benefit significantly from emerging large scale additive manufacturing technology and that this project is a significant first step toward the direct production of large vessel tooling.

Thermwood LSAM Yacht mold joined together

Closeup of Thermwood LSAM Yacht mold joined together

Closeup of Thermwood LSAM Yacht mold joined together


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