Upon unveiling the novel large-scale 3D printer that enabled faster printing of larger objects with advanced materials, the Big-Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) has shown the range of innovative products it can fabricate. Thus far it has printed automobiles (e.g., Shelby Cobra, Strati, the body of a military jeep), a house, a submarine, a mold for a wind turbine blade, a boat hull mold, and a trim tool used in manufacturing wing tips for Boeing’s 777X. These AM products used composite printing technologies to show the possibilities that AM technologies unlock.
These projects demonstrate the possibility to create customized vehicles and heavy machinery while saving time and money, a great benefit to the U.S. Navy in particular. In addition, these innovative designs and applications show the diversity of uses for AM products in residential, military, and construction industries. Exemplifying the versatility of the technology, the excavator project used a variety of 3D printing materials and processes, showing the seamless integration of AM parts into a large, working machine.1,2
In the case of 3D-printed submarines and watercraft, AM technology reduces the number of parts and cost compared to traditional manufacturing. The full-scale 210-square foot home and vehicle – both printed at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility – and excavator integrate industrial components that involve complex shapes and patterns. These research projects provide solutions on a small scale, which will translate to significant reductions in energy use and corresponding increases in cost savings when ramped up to a national or global level.1,5