World’s largest metal 3D printer can print airplane wings

Australian company Titomic recently revealed what is said to be the world’s largest metal 3D printer, which will be used to print anything from bicycle frames to airplane wings.

Australia is rich in titanium and exports it as raw material. However, there is a growing desire to add value to the material. In 2007, a study was conducted by Australian scientific research agency CSIRO to capitalise the material, and the printer project was born.

The metal printer is especially designed to print titanium products. It uses parented technology called Titomic kinetic fusion. The spray process accelerates titanium or titanium alloy particles within a gas-powered jet stream. The metallic mixture is shot out at such a speed (about 1 km per second) that it fuses onto the scaffold material without melting the metal.

Titomic says the printer saves up to 80 per cent material compared to traditional manufacturing methods, and it doesn’t require gas shielding. Because it uses kinetic energy rather than thermal, there is no risk of heat deformation.

The metal 3D printer, which measures 40 x 20 metres (131 x 66 ft), can print objects of 9 x 3 x 1.5 metres (29.5 x 9.8 x 4.9 ft), but can be configured to even larger settings. The build-speed is about 45 kilograms per hour, while ordinary 3D printers have a speed of about 1 kilogram per 24 hours. It’s able to print a bicycle frame in 25 minutes and can even combine various types of metal.

Titomic is currently focusing on aerospace, military, marine and sporting goods (mainly bicycles) industries, but aims to extend into the fields of medicine, automotive and construction soon.

Photo: Titomic