Thermwood Signs Agreement with Navy's Fleet Readiness Center East

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jan 06, 2017

Tags: Thermwood, 3D printing, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM, Navy, Agreement

Thermwood Corporation

Thermwood Corporation of Dale, Indiana has signed a formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Fleet Readiness Center East located at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., and part of the Naval Air Systems Command, to conduct a two-year, joint technology development effort centered on Thermwood’s emerging Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) technology.

Thermwood’s LSAM machines are large-sized industrial additive manufacturing or three-dimensional printing machines that are available in sizes up to 100 feet long. These systems use a “near-net-shape” approach for making parts in which parts are first 3D printed at high speed to a size slightly larger than needed and then trimmed to final net size and shape. Thermwood’s LSAM machine consolidates printing and machining on the same machine using dual gantries. Dual controls allow print and trim operations to be performed simultaneously, each on different ends of the table.

“We are excited to work with the FRC East and are confident that, working together, we can achieve significant advances and results,” said Thermwood Founder, CEO and Chairman Ken Susnjara. “I am confident that this program will benefit us both while further advancing the state of the art.”

Thermwood has been in a continuous research and development program developing additive manufacturing equipment and technology, and in September announced a line of large scale additive manufacturing systems called LSAM. The dual-gantry, high-wall machines are available in sizes from 10-foot-by-10-foot to 10-foot to more than 100-foot with print capability from 150 to 500 pounds per hour.

3D Print and Trim on the Same LSAM Machine 

 About Thermwood Corporation:

Thermwood Corporation, located in Southern Indiana and established in 1969, offers both three & five axis CNC machining centers ideally suited for the production, fabrication & trimming of wood, plastics, non-ferrous metals, composites and other advanced materials.  Thermwood also offers a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system for 3D printing reinforced thermoplastic composite materials for producing industrial tooling, molds, patterns, masters, plugs and fixtures for various industries.  Thermwood is deeply involved in CNC and Additive Manufacturing technologies and development, incorporating a high level of smart control technology in its products. 

About Fleet Readiness Center East:

For more than 60 years, the Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East aboard MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., has played an important part in national defense.  Our workforce has earned a reputation of excellence in providing world-class maintenance, engineering and logistics support for Navy and Marine Corps aviation, as well as other armed services, federal agencies and foreign governments. Our skilled workforce uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure that FRC East is without equal in providing quality, cost-effective support. 

Fleet Readiness Center East

Thermwood LSAM Produces Solid, Void-free Parts 

About the Thermwood LSAM

About the Thermwood LSAM 

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood Adds Thermographic Imaging to its Additive Manufacturing Machines

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, Video, Monitoring, 3D printing, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermographic, Thermwood LSAM, Camera

Thermwood has added thermographic imaging as a standard feature to our large scale additive manufacturing machines (which we call LSAM "L-Sam"). This addition makes it easier to adjust and control the printing process, resulting in the best possible printed structures.  

Know and Control the Temperature

In order to print high quality, void free large scale 3D printed structures, the previous layer must be cool enough to support the new layer without distortioin, but must also be warm enough to fuse completely with the new layer as it is applied. To accomplish this, we must first know and be able to control the temperature of the surface throughout the printing process. There is a narrow range of temperatures for each material where 3D printing is optimal. The goal is to continuously operate within that range.

Real-time Full Color Thermal Image of the Part
 Thermwood LSAM Real-time Full Color Thermal Image of the Part

Thermwood’s new thermographic imaging system shows the operator a full color thermal image of the part as it is being printed. In this image, different colors depict different surface temperatures of the part. With our system, a green color, is assigned to the ideal range of temperatures for the material being printed. The thermal image is displayed on the control screen in a movable, resizable window. The goal is to continuously print on green. 

Easily Adjust Print Speed and Temperature

Easily Adjust Print Speed and Temperature

Once print temperatures are known and the ideal print temperature can be identified, Thermwood’s print head control makes it easy to adjust printing parameters to achieve the ideal print surface temperature. If the part becomes too hot, fan cooling can be increased or print speed can be reduced to allow more cooling time between layers. If the part temperature becomes too cool, print speed can be increased or cooling can be reduced. 

LSAM High-Output Print Heads Are Important

Thermwood’s high output print heads are also important to quality printing of large parts. In the past, trying to print large parts with low output print heads presented a different thermal problem. Slow print speeds prevented the print head from returning to a point before it becomes too cool to achieve a proper layer to layer bond. With Thermwood’s high output print heads (our largest prints up to 500 lbs/hr) this is no longer a problem. Really good quality large thermoplastic composite parts can be made. Our new thermographic imaging system provides temperature guidance and helps the operator to consistently achieve the desired results. 

Three Different Thermographic Camera Mounting Locations

Three Different Thermographic Camera Mounting LocationsThe thermographic camera can be mounted in three different locations. The first is a fixed position on a stand, inside the machine, looking at the part. The second mounting position is on the print gantry. This works well for parts that are too large to view as a single image. The camera can also be mounted to the print head itself, for special applications. Image output from the camera is integrated with Thermwood’s print gantry CNC control and the full color temperature image is displayed on a resizable window right on the control display itself. A touch screen allows the operator to touch any point on the image and read the exact temperature of that point. 

LSAM Produces Solid, Void-free Parts

Thermwood LSAM Produces Solid, Void-free Parts

Using this technology, Thermwood has been able to produce large tools that are solid and void free enough to maintain vacuum without sealing or surface coating. This simplifies production of the tool, allowing accurate machining of the surface without having to deal with distortions that might be caused by variations in the thickness of a coating. 

Print and Trim on the Same Machine

3D Print and Trim on the Same LSAM Machine

Thermwood offers a line of dual gantry additive manufacturing machines which both print and trim parts on the same machine. These machines can be up to 100 feet long with print head output rates from 150 to 500 pounds per hour.  


About the Thermwood LSAM

About the Thermwood LSAM

The Thermwood LSAM is used to produce large to very large sized components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials.

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.  

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood LSAM Time-Lapse Video 3D Printing and Trimming Mold

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, Video, 3D printing, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM

Time-lapse Video 3D Printing/Trimming a Mold on the LSAM

Here we present a time-lapse video demonstrating the Thermwood LSAM 3D printing two parts of a mold at once and then trimming. 

About the Thermwood LSAM

thermwood_lsam_2016_3.jpg

The Thermwood LSAM is used to produce large to very large sized components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials.

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.  


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Time-Lapse Video of Thermwood LSAM 3D Printing Two Parts Simultaneously

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Oct 06, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, Video, 3D printing, LSAM, 3D Print, Thermwood LSAM

Time-lapse Video

Here we present a time-lapse video demonstrating the Thermwood LSAM 3D printing two parts simultaneously. 

About the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood LSAM Time-Lapse Video 3D Printing Two Parts Simultaneously

The Thermwood LSAM is used to produce large to very large sized components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials.

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.  


Request More Information from Thermwood

Thermwood Successfully Tests "Ultra High Output" PH50 3D Print Head

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Sep 14, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, Subtractive, PH50

Thermwood PH50 Head Successfully Tested

Thermwood LSAM PH50 Print HeadAfter recently announcing our line of LSAM (large scale additive manufacturing) machines, Thermwood has now built and tested a high output version of our PH Series composite thermoplastic 3D print head.

At a print rate of 500 lbs/Hr, our newest and largest print head, the PH50 is more than three times faster than even our current PH15 print head (which we believe is currently the highest output composite thermoplastic print head available).  

The Thermwood-designed PH series print head uses three servo drives in a unique configuration.

The advantages of this new design include:

  • a highly accurate print bead, the ability to change bead size while printing
  • high output print rates
  • better fusion between printed layers
  • a virtually void-free printed structure

Thermwood has been operating the PH15 print head on the development version of our large scale additive manufacturing machine, called LSAM (L-Sam). The PH15 features a maximum print output rate of 150 Lbs/Hr when running a 20% carbon fiber filled ABS material. Our newest, and largest print head, the PH50, has been successfully bench-tested at a print rate of slightly over 500 Lbs/Hr running the same material.

A New Way to 3D Print

Fast print rates make possible all new ways to 3D print. The maximum print rate on a particular part is dictated not by the output of the print head, but instead, by cooling. When a layer is printed it must be allowed to cool sufficiently to stiffen enough to support the next layer but should not be allowed to cool so much that it doesn’t fuse properly with the next layer. This means that, although you may be able to print much faster, with most materials, you must wait at least 1 ½ to 2 minutes before you can print another layer. This would tend to make high output print heads unnecessary except for really large parts, but there are situations where this is not the case. 

LSAM Solid Structure PrintingAt times, parts are printed as completely solid structures. When this occurs, bead length adds up quickly. A 5 foot by 5 foot solid layer requires 375 feet of bead length with a 0.800” bead width. Even with a 125 foot per minute print speed (which is the print speed of the PH50 at full output), it will require at least three minutes to print that layer. While this is still within a good layer to layer working time, it is clearly not overly fast. 

Some parts which are printed vertically are so long that they must be printed in multiple sections which are then bonded together. With a fast enough print head and large enough table, all sections can be printed at one time rather than printing them one at a time. In this approach, you print a layer on one part, then move to the next and the next, until you have printed that layer on all the parts. Then, you return to the first part which should then be ready for another layer. You can also mix different types of parts and print them all at the same time, rather than one at a time.  With additive manufacturing technology today, this is the only way to speed up production rate. This approach makes fast print heads and large table sizes not only practical but quite desirable. Thermwood LSAM Tall Vertical Structure Printing

Thermwood's PH Series Print Head Design

Thermwood LSAM PH50 Print HeadThermwood’s PH Series print head design uses a servo-controlled plastic extruder with a specially designed, patented plasticating screw to heat and soften the composite thermoplastic material. It then uses a servo-controlled fixed displacement polymer pump to deliver the softened material at a precisely controlled rate to the print nozzle. This dual-servo, two-step approach to generating the print bead eliminates a variety of problems encountered when trying to use just an extruder to print and generates a highly controlled material flow rate which results in a highly accurate and controllable print bead size. 

Thermwood’s PH Series system generates a relatively large print bead, applied at high speed. The print head is slaved to machine speed so as the machine speeds up and slows down, the output of the print head automatically adjusts to keep the size of the print bead consistent and accurate. This print speed control is automatic and doesn’t need to be incorporated into the CNC print program, greatly simplifying programming. An additional feature of this approach is that the print program can vary the size of the print bead during printing, something Thermwood has found to be a valuable capability. 

Once the bead has been applied, the PH Series print head uses a unique servo-controlled compression wheel to flatten and fuse each new print layer to previous layers. This wheel is the third servo in the PH series print head and can be instructed to automatically track machine motion. 

Thermwood LSAM Servo-Controlled Compression Wheel

Since it tends to squeeze out any air that might otherwise be trapped between layers during printing, Thermwood has found that this compression wheel results in superior bonding between printed layers and a virtually void free printed structure. 

Another Unique Feature

A unique aspect of this new print head design is that, unlike machine motion, the three servo drives in the print head are not machine axes. Thermwood’s print gantries have six servo drive systems, but only three of them are axes. A machine axis needs to be programmed. The servo drives in the print head have their own unique, independent, self-operating intelligent control functions, which they continuously perform without specific ongoing CNC program commands.

Thermwood LSAM PH50 Control

The CNC program simply tells them to perform their function and they do it without further specific instructions, even if those functions require them to interact with the machine program, machine motion or each other. For example, simply turn on the print function and move the machine and the print head will print the proper size bead as the machine moves, automatically adjusting for acceleration, deceleration and different machine speeds. Engage the compression wheel and it follows machine motion automatically. During printing, a delicate balance exists between the extruder and polymer pump in the print head. Achieving and maintaining this balance during all aspects of operation is also automatic. 

PH50 Successfully Operated at Full Output

Thermwood Engineers Testing LSAM PH50 Head at Full OutputCurrently, the new PH50 print head has successfully operated at full output in a static position. Thermwood is replacing its 10x10 foot LSAM development machine with a 10'x20' foot demonstration machine to verify and demonstrate operation of this new head at full print speed. Thermwood believes that 10'x20' is as small a machine as is practical for this high output print head. LSAM machines are available with table lengths of up to 100 foot or more. Thermwood is confident that technology in the PH Series print heads could be used in even higher output print heads should a need ever develop.  

For More Information

The Thermwood line of LSAM machines are available now, and you can get more information and see videos of these new heads in operation here

Thermwood LSAM


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood Announces 3D Additive Machines

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Aug 31, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, 3D printing, Additive, LSAM, Subtractive

Thermwood LSAM Now Available

Thermwood LSAM Now Available 

Thermwood LSAM Logo
After an extensive development program, Thermwood Corporation, (Dale, Indiana, USA), has announced it is now offering a line of Additive Manufacturing Systems for the production of large to very large reinforced thermoplastic composite parts. Thermwood’s new machine line, called LSAM (pronounced L-Sam, short for Large Scale Additive Manufacturing), uses a two-step, near-net-shape production process. 

Two-Step Near Net-Shape Production Process

First the part is 3D printed, layer by layer, to slightly larger than the final size, then it is trimmed to its exact final size and shape using a CNC router. The process operates in free space and does not require molds or tooling.  

With LSAM - first, the part is 3D printed, layer by layer
 
Next, the LSAM part is trimmed to the exact final size using a CNC router
 
Part being trimmed on a Thermwood LSAM 

Thermwood’s target market for this new equipment is the production of tooling, masters, molds, fixtures, patterns and plugs for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, boating, foundry and thermoforming. In addition, Thermwood believes it will find additional applications as various industries become aware of the substantial benefits of large part additive manufacturing. For tooling, the primary benefits of this approach are a substantially lower cost and a dramatically shorter build cycle. 

Print and Trim on the Same Machine 

Print and trim on the same Thermwood LSAM machine 

Thermwood’s high wall, overhead gantry LSAM machines feature a ten foot wide, five foot high work envelope. Length of the work envelope can be as short as ten foot but as long as 100 foot or more. Machines include both a print gantry and a second trim gantry which is actually a five axis CNC router. Both gantries operate over the entire table surface. With this configuration, all functions needed to make parts are performed on the same machine. 

Thermwood’s print gantry features an advanced, Thermwood-developed, vertically-mounted PH Series print head that melts and precisely meters the polymer bead. It can process filled thermoplastic composite materials at temperatures up to 650 o F. Advantages of this unique triple servo design include a much more accurate print bead, the ability to change bead dimensions while printing, the ability to print at high output rates, better fusion between printed layers and a superior void free printed structure. 

Highest Output Rate Head Available 

Thermwood LSAM PH15 head is the highest output head available today
Thermwood currently offers the PH15 Print Head on it LSAM machines. The PH15 prints at rates up to 150 lbs/hr which Thermwood believes is the highest output rate available today. Although Thermwood believes the PH15 is appropriate for many current tooling applications, they are actively developing even higher output versions of the PH Series Print Head. 

The size and typical geometry of parts to be printed, the number of part to be printed at the same time and the overall size of the machine will dictate how large a print head is appropriate. PH Series Print Heads include the ancillary systems required to dry and transport material from storage to the print head. 

The trim or subtractive gantry is a five axis CNC router system equipped with a 12HP (3,000 to 24,000 RPM) Automatic Tool Change Spindle and a ten position automatic tool changer. The vertical Z axis stroke is enhanced, so that the router head can machine from the print table surface to a point completely over the top of a printed part. The machine is also equipped with an automatic tool length measurement system and Thermwood’s patented impact resistant head. The machine uses Siemens Intelligent Servo Drives throughout, for both printing and trimming.  

Thermwood LSAM video screenshot 

Each gantry has its own, free standing Thermwood high performance Q-Core CNC Control for movement. The print gantry also includes an integrated print head control to manage melt, pressure and metering functions. Special control functions, not normally part of a CNC control, have been developed to operate the servo drive print head and bead compression wheel. These functions automatically perform tasks that would otherwise need to be incorporated in the CNC print program. This simplifies 3D print programming. 

Exciting New Manufacturing Revolution

“This is exciting”, says Thermwood’s founder and CEO, Ken Susnjara. “We are at the beginning of what appears to be a revolution in manufacturing and we look forward to the new challenges and incredible possibilities that this type of transformational change brings”. 

Thermwood LSAM is at the forefront of an exciting new manufacturing revolution 

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM