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Summary:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s deal will adapt a laser cutting machine made by Cincinnati Inc. to print polymer objects.

George Miller's Stratasys Dimension 3D printer prints pieces for a cube puzzle. Photo by Signe Brewster
photo: Signe Brewster

3D printing is slow; so slow that printing an object several feet long is an arduous task that can take days. As a result, most 3D printers are tailored to printing small objects that take a few hours at most.

That could change for industrial-sized printers after the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Incorporated signed an agreement this month, 3Dprint.com reported today. The partnership will focus on creating a 3D printer capable of printing objects at 200-500 times the speed and 10 times the size of most current printers.

ORNL and Cincinnati Inc. will build the printer by adapting an existing Cincinati Inc. laser cutting machine to include 3D printing hardware. Instead of relying on spools of string-like plastic, it will rely on pellets of an unnamed polymer.

Pellets are both a cheaper and more flexible source of “ink” for a 3D printer. But they are currently very rarely used. Powders and liquid resin are generally the materials of choice industrial-scale, relatively fast printers.

This is not ORNL’s only venture into 3D printing. The lab announced earlier this month that it will pair with Local Motors to create a 3D printed vehicle.

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  2. Romanoff Supply Thursday, February 27, 2014

    What do you think of the Mlab Concept Laser machine?

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