A new type of 3D printer has been demonstrated at Sliperiet
as part of ongoing +Project - an EU funded R&D
initiative. Suspended on thin fishing lines, 'Hangprinter'
is currently printing a structure inspired by the Tower of Babel.
The machine's innovative spiderlike set up does not depend on a
box, frame or rails; the printer can instead be attached to any
stable surface, opening up a number of opportunities.
The tower is under construction but already measures almost
three-and-a-half metres - not only the tallest object made by the
Hangprinter so far, but much taller than the scope of any
commercially available large format printer.
"As far as I know, the HangPrinter is the only 3D printer of its
kind. There are parallel cable-driven robots and other cable-driven
3D printers, but the HangPrinter is unique in that all the parts
except the energy source are mounted on the mobile device, and that
it can use existing structures - in this case the walls - as a
frame," says Torbjørn Ludvigsen, inventor of the HangPrinter.
Cost-efficient 3D printing
Torbjørn Ludvigsen started working on the HangPrinter while
still a student at Umeå University, and the initial motive for
designing a hanging printer was to bring down production costs:
"The frame or box was almost half the cost of the final 3D
printer, and I thought I could do without it."
Torbjørn Ludvigsen proved its feasibility with a first prototype
last year and has been improving the method and device ever since.
The printer can be put together for around EUR 200, a fraction of
the cost of other large format printers.
"With a 3D printer unconstrained by a set frame or box, prints
can become as tall as whatever it can be suspended from, while the
horizontal print area is unconstrained by a set frame," says Linnea
Therese Dimitriou, Creative Director at Sliperiet. She immediately
saw the potential in the device and suggested printing a Tower of
Babel to test it on a larger scale.
"I find this technology very exciting as it gives us new and
increased flexibility. Opportunities include printing over vast
areas and printing large volumes - horizontally and vertically -
without the need to build rails or frames. The setup could also be
scaled up and adapted for other materials. Future versions of the
device could be equipped with sensors for greater precision and
outdoor use. The tower project at Sliperiet, where attachment
points are moved along as we ascend, shows that this is a feasible
idea," says Linnéa Therese Dimitrou.