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Colossus presents worlds largest transportable FGF 3D printer
Nov 14, 2018 | By Cameron
When people think about 3D printing, many still imagine handheld trinkets coming out of desktop machines. “3D printers are great for prototyping small objects, but they haven’t revolutionized manufacturing yet,” they might say. The truth is that some of the largest single-piece objects are coming out of 3D printers. A new contender for the heavyweight 3D printing belt will make its debut public appearance at Formnext 2018 in Frankfurt, and that’s Colossus.
Colossus is a multinational startup based in Genk, Belgium and their engineering team developed a large-scale 3D printer with some truly impressive specs. For one, it employs a fused granular fabrication (FGF) system that enables it to print from an extensive list of recycled and non-recycled materials like rPP and rPLA. One of the reasons it can print so many materials is the fact that the extruder can reach 400°C! But what really separates this machine from the prototyping pack is its 15kg/hour print speed, where it sprints ahead into the pack of small factories. A dehumidifier is built into the print head for increased quality control, and the bed is liquid heated for optimal heat distribution. The machine isn’t shipping container-sized by coincidence as it was designed from the start to be fully transportable, removing all the logistics-based excuses that companies use to not recycle their plastics. With a build size of ~3m x 1.5m, Colossus can print furniture and construction modules.
Co-Founder Philippe Mérillet says “Clients also requested a way to make furniture and other large-scale objects from plastic waste, so we searched the market and a large-scale printer and everything we found was either too slow, too expensive, or could not work with high-temperature materials like rPET or CarbonP, which are difficult to extrude.” Through a partnership with Mitsubishi, they’ve tested 10 different material compounds and the Colossus is the first printer of it’s scale to use recycled PET and PP profiles.
With One Project, they’ve created a consortium of companies that can process plastic waste collected from clients and return it to the clients in a high-quality pellet format for printing. This means companies like Disney and Six Flags that produce and already collect massive amounts of plastic waste can turn that waste into furniture, stations and stands, or even more souvenirs. And every Colossus comes with a giant window so everyone can see the magic.That window is a smart move because businesses like to show off their sustainability efforts, and direct recycling comes with a big wow factor.
The prototype has already performed well at Tomorrowland, Essencia, and Abinbev, and they plan to continue touring. Each Colossus FGF 3D printer will be custom made to fit the needs of the client, whether that’s different flooring and lighting options, swapping the liquid-heated bed for an electric bed, installing air conditioning, or adding an extra cooling nozzle. They’ll even put it in a designer container and adjust the window size. All Colossus printers can be configured for static or transportable use. Future versions will offer multi-material printing and an output of a whopping 25kg/hour.
The development of this project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union
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