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April 26, 2024

UMaine smashes its own world record with a 3D printer that’s 4X as large

Photo / Courtesy, UMaine Dubbed Factory of the Future 1.0, the new 3D printer at the University of Maine was unveiled this week.

After launching the world's largest 3D printer in 2019, the University of Maine this week showed off one that's even larger.

The new printer, dubbed Factory of the Future 1.0, was unveiled at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center in Orono to an audience of federal and state officials, industry partners and representatives of other organizations that may someday utilize the technology.

The thermoplastic polymer printer can create objects as large as 96 feet long by 32 feet wide by 18 feet high, and has a print volume four times the size of its predecessor, UMaine said.

Factory of the Future can print up to 500 pounds per hour.

It opens up possibilities of eco-friendly, cost-effective manufacturing for numerous industries, including national security, affordable housing, bridge construction, ocean and wind energy technologies and maritime vessel fabrication.

The previous printer has already been used to turn out objects including a house and a military patrol boat.

The cost of the new printer is still be finalized, a UMaine spokesperson told Mainebiz. The machine was created by the company that also created the 2019 printer, Ingersoll Machine Tools, of Rockford, Ill. Funding is coming from a variety of sources, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The acquisition of the previous printer five years ago was an outgrowth of the composite center’s extensive research in combining cellulosic fibers with thermoplastic materials, Habib Dagher, founding executive director, said at the time.

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