Choosing the 3D Construction Printer most suitable to your projects, work environment and objectives
Your company finally plans to integrate 3D construction printing to the processes, and you’re asked to inquire and identify the most adapted 3DCP system on the market, among many manufacturers. The task is not easy, as several companies spread misleading information about the actual potential of 3DCP technology. Fortunately, our company (Constructions-3D) is here to help you succeed in your choice and integration of 3DCP to your processes.
Our company mission starts right here by objectively helping you understand what type of 3D construction printer is best adapted to your objectives, work environment, budget and vision.
This article answer to :
What is the most adapted 3D construction printer type between gantry systems, industrial robot arms and hydraulic robot arms ?
What are the main differences between 3D construction printers like gantries or robot arms, and what system is best adapted to you ?
To help you identify what 3D construction printer is best adapted to your work objectives, Constructions-3D introduce the difference between each 3D Gantries and Robots Arms printers types, considering:
Installation requirements and duration,
We’ll then conclude about what 3D printer type is most adapted to you.
3D construction printers types :
Let’s see what are the main characteristics differentiating 3D printer types :
“3D printing from inside or outside the machine ?” The first difference between Gantry and robots is 3D concrete printers.
At first sight, it may look more simple to plan your work inside a cube than inside a circular volume. But let's see from different point of view what is actually the most adapted, according to parts sizes
In case of gantry type printers, the print area is located inside the machine. It implies the 3D printer size must follow the work volume.
As the price of a gantry printer varies with its size, this may be an issue if each of your projects have different sizes.
We understand here that the Gantry 3D printer seems better adapted to project smaller or equal to the maximum printing volume. We’ll see later what additional information confirms this observation.
In the case of robot arms 3D concrete printers, the project size is not limited by the printing volume, as it is located all around the machine. This means we can use the exact same 3D printer for different project sizes.
We understand the robot arm 3D construction printer is more versatile and tolerant considering project size. Furthermore, the machine price is constant, whatever the project size.
What about the installation requirements and duration for each type of 3D printer ?
This point is central and must be carefully taken to count when choosing your 3D printer. Indeed, your 3D printer is more cost-efficient when you spend more time printing than installing and setting up machines. Depending on the work environment (Another Point of this comparison), the choice of your 3D printer may depend on the need.
(One complementary article about 3D printer cost efficiency will soon be published, stay tuned on Constructions-3D newsletter).
Gantry printer installation requirements and consequences :
Due to its framework conception, the beams and the pillars of the gantry system must be assembled onsite. For its stability, the structure needs to be mounted on concrete blocks of 1T, or rails fixed in a slab. This implies a careful preparation of the surface. Indeed, if the rails or the pillars and beams are not perfectly leveled, the entire 3D printer calibration is compromised due to cantilevers in sliders.
The installation of the gantry requires great precaution, time (1-3 days) and energy (3-4 people, crane or lifting solutions).
First Consequence :
Even when it is introduced as movable by manufacturers, we understand that gantry systems are better adapted to unique and definitive locations of use.
The printing of a project bigger than the gantry printer volume implies removing and assembling again the entire 3D printer structure.
Hydraulic robot arm as Maxi Printer installation requirements and consequences functions :
The main advantages of the Maxi printer are its compact, mobile and quick and easy to install. The installation of the full Maxi Printer solution is possible with only two operators, in 2–4 hours (including calibration and dry print). The machine is already assembled and can be moved from the unique 20ft container that stores it by one operator. Only one standard manuscopic is required to help you get the remaining equipment out from the container (pumping system, silo, Start kit etc.).
As the weight of the machine (2,7T) is spread over the four legs (stress under each leg : 0.93 kgf/cm2) the Maxi Printer can be directly installed on a slab, foundations or passable compacted ternary land with high tolerance for non-planar surfaces.
First consequence :
It is possible to install the full Maxi printer solution, calibrate, operate dry print and start printing on the same day. This is a considerable advance that directly benefits the efficiency of your work execution, by reducing the time and effort to print your projects.
Second consequence :
The Maxi Printer is adapted to be moved between different printing positions on the same project site. Further, as the printing area is around the machine, it is possible to make several machines work simultaneously !
How about the management of wall junctions between two project printed from different print positions ? One next dedicated article will be published soon, stay tuned on the newsletter Constructions-3D
Download the latest version of The Maxi Printer solutions datasheet :
Point of attention between industrial robot and hydraulic robot arm (as the Maxi Printer):
Even if industrial robot arms are introduced as easy to move from two print positions, it is more effective to print the most possible in one go.
As the radius of action of industrial robots is limited, the machine must be moved more to accomplish the same amount of work.
Let’s now take a look at the most common work environment where 3D construction printers are used, and where it is the best suitable.
If you work in a laboratory environment :
You need a 3D printer to test material and develop formulations of 3D mortars and concrete. As you must iterate many tests, it is best to choose a 3D printing system that requires a small amount of material to print, and a small volume to fit in the lab.
Small gantry 3D printers like the MiniPrinter Pro or EDU by Constructions-3D are perfectly adapted in this case.
Most adapted 3D construction printer for laboratory: Small to medium volume gantry 3D printers are the best suitable for development work. The MiniPritner Pro or MiniPrinter EDU by constructions-3D are both very adapted :
If you work in part manufacturing warehouse :
The 3D printer is a production machine and must be anchored in the ground in one definitive location. The installation duration argument is not as sensitive as on outdoor or indoor worksites.
It has to count the minimum amount of spare part to replace
Industrial robots or medium gantry 3D printers (as MiniPrinter XL by Construction-3D) are adapted for this application and work environment.
What 3D concrete printer choose ? Industrial robots and medium to large volume gantry types are the most adapted in this case.
If you work on an outdoor or indoor construction worksite :
You need your 3D machine to operate in different locations on the same project, sometimes inside areas difficult to access.
The machines must be adapted to bad weather conditions.
Time is money : The 3D construction printer has to be operational in less than 4 hours only. It must be quick and easy to restart on next projects.
The 3D construction printer must be operated by a minimum of labor and additional construction machine
Its use must require the minimum of spare parts to replace.
What 3D concrete printer for construction site ? Hydraulic Robots arms as The Maxi Printer solution is the most adapted, for indoor and outdoors works.
One of those main applications and work environment may correspond to your context of work. But maybe you need to identify what 3D construction printer is the most suitable for all situations combined.
The table below gives you a definitive comparison of 3D printing systems types, considering the points of attention detailed along this article.
Matrix of comparison of gantry types VS Robots arms 3DCP
3D printer types
Outdoor construction site
Indoor construction site
Versatility on all zones (yes or no)
Small and medium size Gantry 3D printers
- One category is not adapted
Large size gantry
Partially adapted -> Material quantity wasted per test due to pipe size and large printing volume. -> Assembly and Installation process and duration constraining
Partially adapted -> Assembly and Installation process and duration constraining -> Junction to existing construction not possible
-> Prevent from printing near existing walls, slabs and roofs from the inside of a building
-> assembly and Installation process
- One category is not adapted
Industrial robot arm
-> Has to be configured as a 3D printer (it is basically not). Requires robot programming skills.
-> Security fence around the machine due to speed
Partially adapted -> The industrial robot is not conceived to work outdoors, under bad weather conditions. -> The Printing volume is limited. The robot must be moved often to complete a simple 10m long wall.
-> The Printing volume is limited. The robot must be moved often to complete a simple 10m long wall.
Hydraulic robot arm: MaxiPrinter
-> Material quantity wasted per test due to pipe size and large printing volume.
Conclusion per 3D printing system types
Gantry types : It is adapted to be used in a part manufacturing warehouse. The machine must be leveled and anchored to the ground. According to the printing volume, it is adapted to laboratories (small volume printers) to warehouse printing (medium and large volume). However, with large volumes it becomes constraining to move the part out from the 3D printer, or out from the warehouse.
Industrial robots : It first has to be configured as a 3D printer (as it basically is an industrial robot). The anchoring of the robot to its work zone and its radius of printing make it suitable for part manufacturing inside a manufacturing warehouse. When the robot is mounted on a slide, the efficiency to produce parts is increased and makes the printing of a series of parts uninterrupted. Furthermore, industrial robots are perfectly adapted to 3D print using 2K print head and material.
However, this type of system is not adapted to outdoors weather conditions and lacks efficiency in printing large scale projects (not more than 3-4 m long work in one go). Indeed, it has to be moved more often to complete the same amount of work than large 3D printers.
Hydraulic mobile and compact robot arm (MaxiPritner by Constructions-3D):
This system has been conceived specially for construction worksites outdoor or indoor, contrary to the ones listed previously. Its print volume capacity, easy and quick installation and work quality makes it your best choice to combine the largest panel of applications, in a variety of work environments. The Maxi Printer is the long run innovation to support you and your company's strategic Research and development plan to automate construction.
About Constructions-3D : The France based manufacturer of 3D construction printing solution. We support companies all over the world in their success to integrate 3D construction printing to their process.