The desktop 3D printing revolution isn’t just beneficial for makers and hobbyists; there is a growing market for large format 3D printers aimed at small businesses.
That’s because a large format 3D printer is ideal for exploring product development stages with rapid prototyping without investing in a full-scale industrial additive manufacturing solution.
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing a large format 3D printer in action, then you’re not likely to forget it any time soon. They occupy a big footprint, ranging from occupying a benchtop to a towering edifice of metal and plastic.
Here are some of the best large format 3D printers suitable for small business with relatively modest price tags. You’ll find all the relevant technical specs and features to help you reach an informed decision on which large format 3D printer to choose.
If you are not sure about buying a large format 3D printer, then we recommend you skip ahead to the addendum: Factors to Consider Before Buying a Large Format 3D Printer for your Business
Did you know that the market-leading Ultimaker 3 is also available in a large format 3D printer version? Well now you do; take a gander at the towering form of the Ultimaker 3 Extended.
Essentially, it has all of the same features as the UM3 — dual extrusion, swappable printer cores, wifi connectivity — but with a bigger Z-axis to enable fabrication for taller models.
The X and Y axis retain the same dimensions as the original UM3, which makes for the rare existence of a large format 3D printer with the same desktop footprint as a conventional FDM printer.
Large Format 3D Printer Review: Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review: The Best Large Format 3D Printer
The LulzBot Taz 6 is our top pick for the best large format 3D printer you can buy today. Why? For a myriad of good reasons; the pioneering open source credentials of US company Aleph Objects; the frankly excellent supporting documentation; and the trust engendered by consistent and reliable operation.
In our recent review, we hit a couple of snags with the latest version of Cura LulzBot Edition for slicing. This is a bit annoying, but there are more slicer software options available. More promising is the ecosystem of accessories to expand the capability of the Taz 6. These include a flexystruder for printing with flexible materials, a dual extruder print-head, and a modular print bed system.
The Zortrax M300 is a super-sized version of the proven and popular Zortrax M200. It was released in response to customer requests for a large format 3D printer that would enable printing models in one piece without the need to split and then assemble it. As with the M200, files are transferred from the computer to the printer via SD cards.
The perforated, heated build platform on this large format 3D printer is an important feature that it allows you to print with sturdy ABS filament. Materials are provided on massive 2kg spools, with indicators to see how much filament is left.
Another upgrade that has immediate effects on the quality of the prints; the M300 ships with side covers that help maintain a constant temperature. This mitigates warping that can occur when there are sudden changes of temperature in the workspace.
If you need a large format 3D printer that works out of the box with very little setup, and which produces reliable and consistent results, then the Zortrax M300 would make a great large format 3D printer for your small business.
Large Format 3D Printer Review: Creality CR-10 Review – The Best 3D Printer Under $500
Since its release in summer 2016, the Creality CR-10 has created something of a stir in the 3D printing community. As we explain in our review, the excitement surrounding this large format 3D printer is entirely justified.
For small business use, the model with the 500 ✕ 500 ✕ 500mm build volume certainly qualifies as a large format 3D printer. For those with smaller pockets and less ambitious requirements, Creality offers versions with a build volume of either 400 x 400 x 400 mm or 300 ✕ 300 ✕ 400 mm. Ironically, even the smallest model dwarfs many other 3D printers in its price category.
But these cost-savings don’t come at the cost of print quality; the CR-10 is capable of exceptional prints. This large format 3D printer ships as a partially assembled kit that can be easily put together with a twist of a hex key.
The downside of the Creality CR-10 is the awkward arrangement of its components. While a heated bed is certainly essential for a large format 3D printer, the open-face design means your print jobs will be susceptible to changes in ambient temperature. In short, it probably isn’t suitable to print with more demanding filaments like ABS.
The CraftBot XL positions itself as an indispensable tool for engineers and others makers who require a substantial build volume. Taking the CraftBot Plus as the foundation — which is a pretty sound decision, seeing as that is a renowned plug and play machine — the designers of this large format 3D printer have enlarged the build plate, increased its heating capacity, and improved bearings for a more silent and precise operation.
The BCN3D Sigmax belongs to a select group in the large format 3D printer category; it boasts an independent dual extrusion (IDEX) system.
The benefits of an IDEX are quite significant. Not only can you use both heads to print a single object in two materials (especially handy for providing dissolvable support for objects with complex geometry), but you can use both heads to print separate objects simultaneously, which should cut your small batch production times in half. This comes in especially handy with a horizontal Y-axis that’s 420mm wide.
Important to note, however, is that the supporting slicer software here is a fork of Cura. To get the full experience with this large format 3D printer, you’ll be relying heavily on software which has been tweaked and developed in-house by BCN3D, and doesn’t always keep step with the universal version of Cura.
The Raise3D N2 Plus is a large format 3D printer with a whopping build volume of 300 x 300 x 600 mm. The fully enclosed design features a sturdy aluminum metal frame and plastic casing. This is useful not only to improve print quality when printing with materials such as ABS, but also to greatly enhance the safety of the printer, making the N2 Plus a great fit for schools and businesses. This same model of large format 3D printer is also available with dual extruders.
The da Vinci Super is an enclosed large volume 3D printer from XYZprinting, and represents their first foray into the professional 3D printing market for engineering and small business. In addition to the large capacity, the company boasts that their machine can handle multiple types of filament — including ABS, PLA, TPE, Tough PLA, and PETG — and is also compatible with third-party filaments. There’s also upgraded hardware for improved safety and functionality, such as power failure recovery feature and a safety door that pauses printing when opened. Above all else, you can be rest assured that the da Vinci Super is a large format 3D printer that will be extremely competitive on price.
Looking for a large format 3D printer that you can build as a DIY kit? The Anycubic 4Max is a new kid on the block with a modular frame construction for simple assembly. It comes with an Anycubic Ultrabase, which the company describes as a proprietary composite coating on the heated bed which offers steady heating curve, durable adhesion and makes objects easy to pry off the bed. Other features include a power loss backup, a filament runout sensor, and a heavy duty support plate to reduce vibrations.
The SeeMeCNC Rostock Max V3 is another large format 3D printer that’s available in DIY kit form, but for a little extra cash you can also find it pre-assembled and ready to print out of the box. Noteworthy features of this Delta-style unit is the RAMBo by UltiMachine electronics, one of the best available 3D printer controllers, and the SeeMeCNC HE280 hotend, which is capable of printing in strong industrial grade materials like Nylon. These high end components, combined with the massive vertical build volume, makes it a great large format 3D printer for industrial projects and prototyping.
The Wanhao Duplicator D5S is a large format 3D printer made by Wanhao, an American manufacturer. The build volume is substantial, thanks to the 575 mm height on the Z-axis, which makes the Wanhao Duplicator D5S especially suitable for professional model builders, architects, or small business prototyping. The striking design is constructed with a steel frame that provides the machine with more stability. It also has a Bowden extrusion system, which means this large format 3D printer is capable of 3D printing at speeds over 300mm/s.
The Airwolf EVO doesn’t like to describe itself as a large format 3D printer. Instead, it would rather you approached with a pious reverence and whispered the term “Additive Manufacturing Center”, or AMC if you must use abbreviations.
Pfft, whatever. If the Airwolf EVO looks like a large format 3D printer and smells like a large format 3D printer, then you can be pretty damn sure it’s a large format 3D printer. Away with your excitable marketing!
Aside from that bum note, the feature set does plenty to speak for itself. In addition to the plus-size build volume, the EVO has an enclosed, temperature controlled chamber and auto-leveling and calibration. It also has an air-purifying system to handle those nasty toxic particles; a power-failure recovery system; and a filament run out detection widget.
Remember the revolutionary IDEX system we referenced earlier? The Leapfrog Bolt Pro is a large format 3D printer deploying the same technology as the BCN3D Sigmax. There’s a bit more industrial polish applied to this model, however, and that’s reflected in the list price.
Topline features include a system of swappable print beds (made from either glass or composite materials), wifi connectivity, a HEPA filter, extended warranty, and a software license for the Simplify3D slicer. The build quality is impressive too, with a fully enclosed chamber made from a high-grade aluminum frame and functional components made from steel.
The BigRep Studio is not even the biggest large format 3D printer offered by this Berlin Startup, but for most use cases it’s probably plenty big enough. With a print volume of 500mm x 1000mm x 500mm, the Studio retains the meter wide printing capability on the horizontal axis, but scales back on the X and Z axes to a more manageable 500mm. The benefit of this redesign, according to the company, is higher precision and faster printing.
This large format 3D printer is available in both a single and dual extruder configuration, has a power-failure backup feature, and the hotend is capable of working with the most demanding materials on the market. Also of note is how it’s been optimized for operation with Simplify3D, a market-leading paid solution in software slicing (though it also plays nice with Cura and Slic3r).
The build space of the Fusion 3 400-S is completely enclosed to control the internal temperature. This promises a consistent quality of production, especially when handling high-temperature filaments like ABS and Polycarbonate.
The hardened steel nozzles built into this large format 3D printer can withstand abrasive materials like metal, ceramic, and carbon fiber. The built-in auto bed-leveling uses infrared light to adjust the bed along the Z axis in real time. Users control the large format 3D printer either by the 4.7” color touchscreen or remotely via a web interface. Customers of the Fusion 3 400-S will also receive a license of the slicer software Simplify3D free of charge.
For workshops that lack air ventilation, Fusion offers a filter system upgrade that reduces smells and toxic vapors while printing. And in case you need speed rather than high quality, Fusion offers a variation of this large format 3D printer. The Fusion 3 F400-HFR is designed with high-throughput in mind. It prints 50% faster than the F400-S, but the downside is that you lose print detail.
With two successful Kickstarter campaigns under their belts, re:3D have a solid reputation for well-constructed and affordable large format 3D printers. The most recent incarnation of the Gigabot is called the XLT 900, with a mindboggling build volume of 590 x 760 x 900 mm. This large format 3D printer is 300mm higher than the next biggest in their range, the Gigabot XL 3+.
The initial concept of a large format 3D printer was partly inspired by the lead designer’s work for engineers without borders. In developing nations, he observed the potential for recycling plastic trash into filament that could be used by small businesses. In tribute to this inspiration, for every 100 Gigabots delivered, re:3D donates a Gigabot to a group dedicated to improving their community.
The Delta WASP 3MT is a large format 3D printer that can print objects up to three meters high. Another thing that makes it unique is the diverse array of tools that can be installed; It can also be a pellet extruder, a fluid-dense extruder, a milling machine, and a spitfire extruder. Prototyping items like household furniture are well within the capabilities of this large format 3D printer.
Next on our list of large format 3D printers is the Builder Extreme 2000. This machine by Dutch manufacturer Builder has an impressive build volume of 700 x 700 x 1820 mm. With a fully-enclosed build space and heated bed, users can control the conditions within the build chamber to perfection.
But what really makes this particular company’s large format 3D printers stand out is its advanced solution to mix filaments. It can feed two different filaments through one of two nozzles, enabling subtle color gradients. The color mixing is controlled using Builder’s proprietary “Color Mix Tool” software.
More importantly, Builder maintains that its “Dual-Feed” technology eliminates problems like color bleed which frequently occurs when working with dual extrusion. Another advantage is that prints don’t need to be paused when filament spools run out – which is inevitable if printing human-scale objects.
The company claims that their large format 3D printer can operate continuously for up to 800 hours – that’s more than 30 days. In case you have other things to do during that time, you can always monitor progress by tuning into the built-in camera. The WiFi connector even lets you control the entire large format 3D printer remotely. For faster prints you can switch to larger nozzle diameters.
The Markforged Mark Two is a very special large format 3D printer. That’s not to say that every item on this list isn’t in some way unique. But the Mark Two works by reinforcing your 3D printed parts with composite fiber while fabricating them, providing increased strength, stiffness and durability in final parts.
In addition to printing Onyx, a proprietary filament from Markforged, the Mark Two can print with challenging materials like Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass and Kevlar. The trade-off, perhaps, is that you don’t have the same build volume as other large format 3D printers. But you get instead a really tough prototype that’s suitable for an end-use scenario.
Rounding out our list of the large format 3D printers is the original BigRep. In 2016, BigRep launched the third iteration of its large format 3D printer, the BigRep ONE v3. With a build space of 1005 ✕ 1005 ✕ 1005 mm, it’s capable of producing full-size furniture in a single print.
This large format 3D printer was designed to fill the gap between small-scale 3D printers and large-scale industrial 3D printers costing upward from $250,000. The $39,000 price tag is attractive to — for example — universities that’d like to prepare their students for work in an industrial setting. But it’s also a viable option for small businesses that need to fabricate their prototypes true to scale.
First, you should determine whether you need a large format 3D printer for your small business at all. Using a 3D printer is not as straightforward as working with a 2D printer. When you set up a print, you need to deal with leveling build plates and other factors most consumers never considered before. In some cases, an online 3D printing service might be better.
Assess your needs with the following criteria:
The answer to these questions determine what kind of large format 3D printer you should buy.
If time is of the essence, there are other factors to consider. FDM is known to be a relatively slow process. The printing speed increases when you set out to print off human-scale objects like furniture. There are ways to tweak the length of time it takes to finish a printing job, like increasing the layer-height or decreasing the infill. However, these modifications will have immediate effects on the quality of the finished part.
The 3D printing technologies FDM and SLA use only the material needed for the actual print (PLUS supports). Other technologies, like SLS, use the entire print bed of powder regardless of the size of printed goods. For this reason, 3D printing services automatically arrange the content of build tray to save the precious powder that cannot be reused without some effort.
In this article, we cover large format FDM 3D printers. Mostly they are used to 3D print thermoplastics like ABS or PLA, and this includes exotic filaments (wood and metal). Some large format 3D printers like the Delta Wasp 3MT can also print materials that are suitable for extrusion like ceramics.
Enlisting the help of an online 3D printing service has the additional advantage that your 3D files are processed by trained professionals who are able to print them off to perfection. It goes without saying that training your own staff to operate a new, large format 3D printer will cost time and money; you might end up producing scrap before the prints are good enough for your small business.
License: The text of "Large Format 3D Printer – 20 Best Big FDM 3D Printers 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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