Creating a Shipping Container Sized 3D Printer
A few years ago 3D printing was nothing more than a gimmick, now it’s an industry in itself allowing businesses and individuals to construct custom components and rapidly mock up prototypes cheaply and effectively. No longer are 3D printers restricted to simple small objects, now they can just as easily be mocking up the latest supercar design in full 1:1 scale. But to rapidly print such large objects, you need a larger than life printer.
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) is a process where a physical object is “printed” from a machine using a digital file. The process involves creating multiple layers until the final project is created. First the manufacturer must make a design on a computer using a 3D Modelling CAD programme. Or, if the product already exists, it can be quickly “cloned” using a 3D scanner. What started off as an incredibly expensive and technical process is now consumer grade, with accessories for video games such as the Microsoft Kinect even having the capability to 3D scan an object, while small 3D printers are appearing on Kickstarter with a sub $100 price.
Other 3D printers are being constructed in order to print much larger objects, so large that they need to be housed in a 20 foot shipping container.
Turning a Shipping Container into a Large Scale 3D Printer
The Kamermaker (Dutch for “Room Maker”) is one such large scale 3D printer. With the ability to print 3D products 2.5m wide and 3m high, it takes up a lot of space, and isn’t exactly the most portable of devices. It’s been used to print large objects such as furniture, or as it’s name suggests entire rooms and small tent like buildings. The printer is constructed inside the shipping container which is positioned on its side for printing tall objects or normally, when producing long objects, with its working parts built into all the X, Y and Z axes of the shipping container.
The designers asked themselves these questions:
- What if they could 3D print entire buildings?
- What if the entire design and build could be done on site?
- What if they had a 3D printing facility that could travel the world?
- What if they could 3D print an entire room in a single day?
The shipping container housing for the 3D Printer provides the obvious solution for almost all of these questions and more. In their words “A pavilion that can travel around the world and print pavilions”. Their plan is to construct the first 3D printed house in Amsterdam. The house will then be used to showcase 3D printing technology.
The printer constructs objects from recyclable materials, and its ability to rapidly construct structures makes it ideal for on the spot, on demand disaster relief housing. These bioplastics are 80% vegetable material. Theoretically the printer can construct buildings from anything that has a low enough melting temperature.
You can see it in action below:
Do You Need a Shipping Container?
Whether it’s a container for your own large scale 3D printing project with all the bells and whistles such as electrical fit outs, access doors and windows or some other form of second hand shipping container, Gateway Container Sales and Hire has got you covered. Our team of shipping container experts will help you select the right container for the right job, and give you stage by stage advice on the kinds of modifications required. Contact us now for a free quote and start your project today.