02. May 2019

UPM demonstrates large scale robot-based 3D printing applications

At last month’s Nordic 3D Expo in Espoo Dipoli Congress Centre, UPM demonstrated large scale robot-based 3D printing applications in collaboration with ABB and Prenta, opening new possibilities for designers and manufacturers.

sThe robot based granulate printing process enables time- and cost-efficient fabrication of large-scale 3D parts with short lead-times. Potential business areas include, for example, furniture design, moulding or the boat industry.

The industrial robot was printing UPM Formi 3D biocomposite, which enabled large components to be 3D printed with high geometrical tolerances. “The PrentaRobo is designed for the manufacturing industry as a tool to create new and cost efficient products," said Riku Rusanen, CEO, Prenta Finland.

ABB Robotics played an important role in developing the innovative robot-based 3D printing system. ABB is the leading supplier of industrial robots and robot software, equipment and complete application solutions.

"This is a pioneering technological innovation that represents the next level in large scale industrial 3D printing. We've made it possible to use an extrusion head in our IRB6700 6-axis robot to create a 3D printing system that's ideal for very precise and large scale additive manufacturing. External axes and trackmotion have been added to achieve an even bigger working area. Users can then control the extrusion head and create printing paths with our 3D simulation program RobotStudio, the industry's leading PC-based solution for offline programming, configuration and virtual commissioning," says Pasi Kukkonen, Product Manager, ABB Oy Robotics.

The biocomposite technology is evolving

UPM Formi 3D grades been specially developed for 3D printing. These grades combine advanced cellulose fibre and biopolymer technologies.

UPM Formi 3D is produced and sold in granule form directly for fused granular fabrication (FGF) or to producers of 3D filaments. Granulate-based printing using an ABB industrial robot to print UPM biocomposite has already been done before, for example in Sweden by 3D makerspace The Wood Region.

"Together with our partners, we are exploring the new possibilities in the field of large scale 3D printing. Large scale 3D printing techology is fast evolving and we are part of the evolution with our biocomposite technology offering new woodbased materials for the markets," said Eve Saarikoski, Applications Manager, UPM Biocomposites.

UPM Formi 3D's low shrinkage and self-supporting melt flow enable printing up to 75 degree, ensuring that large objects with round or other complex shapes can be printed without warpage problems even directly to plywood surface.

Wood-like post processing of the prints is another benefit of the biocomposite: the prints can easily finalized by conventional wood processing methods.

UPM Formi 3D grades are 100% recyclable and also available with FSC® and PEFC(TM) certification.


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