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Blackbelt 3D Printer: CoolTechStuff

Larrry Mortimer, AIA

So you’ve looked at 3D printers and thought they were interesting but only good for printing small things.  Well, here is a company (Blackbelt 3D) in the Netherlands that has rethought the way 3D printers operate and how large the prints can be.

What Does It Do: The Blackbelt 3D printer is a fused filament (FFF) 3D printer that can print an object 340mm (13”) high x 340mm (13”) wide x any length.

What Does It Cost: It’s not cheap, €9,500 (approx. $11,870) for the desktop version and €12,500 (approx. $15,620) with a standing frame and roller table.

How Does It Work: The Blackbelt 3D printer is similar to most FFF printers, except the printing mechanism is rotated 15-45 degrees from the horizontal and the printing bed is a moving high-precision conveyor belt that allows prints to be of any length.  There are still limitations on height (13”) and width (also 13”) but the length can be anything.  The printer uses a standard 1.75mm filament of ABS, PLA, Co-Polyester, or PETG materials.

Conclusion: This is a fantastic idea.  I’m surprised that no one thought of it before now.  I can see many applications for a printer like this in architecture.  For example, you could print a long streetscape model with this printer, or a mockup of a long building element.  The printer is also good at printing an endless number of the same part (good for repeating elements in a model).

This printer is in Kickstarter Campaign mode and is scheduled to ship December 2017 to January 2018 (which is now – I don’t know if it is shipping yet).  However, exercise caution when participating in any Kickstarter Campaign because shipping dates are notoriously optimistic, and sometimes they never ship at all.

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