Large Scale Printer Comparison: BigRep PRO VS Massivit 5000
Are you looking to print big, massive stuff? In this article of the VS series, we’re comparing two heavyweights in the industry. First, from the German company BigRep, we’ve got the BigRep PRO, an FDM printer designed specifically for large …
Are you looking to print big, massive stuff? In this article of the VS series, we’re comparing two heavyweights in the industry. First, from the German company BigRep, we’ve got the BigRep PRO, an FDM printer designed specifically for large format industrial applications. On the other side, from the Israeli company Massivit 3D, we’ve got the enormous Gel Dispensing Printer (GDP), the Massivit 5000. We’ll compare key characteristics focusing on their capacity to handle large scales and their readiness for industrial demands. However, before making any comparison, there’s something we must take heed of first.
The Challenges of Large Format Printing
Both of these printers are at the top of their respective spectrum of products. Interestingly enough, their build volumes are precisely the same as their lower-tier counterparts (BigRep ONE and Massivit 1800). Why? It happens that as a printer grows in size, issues appear at increasing rates. Think that as you increase the scale of a part it increases not only in a single dimension but in three, volumetrically. If standard size part printing cycles can take hours, larger formats could take days! Not to mention that by increasing speeds, printing quality decreases.
Now, by increasing the build volume of a printer, the weight of its moving components most certainly increases too, and the system must deal with greater loads, vibration and, as a result, a loss in accuracy. How do you deal with typical issues of larger parts like, for example, warping or delamination? Also, notice that waste material from failed prints is much more significant and costly as scale increases.
So, what do we need to improve confidence and repeatability in large format printers? Especially if you consider industrial quality standards? We could take the entirety of this article discussing the problem, but in basic terms, large format printers must prioritise:
- Robust and stable hardware
- Control and monitorisation
Let’s see how the BigRep PRO and Massivit 5000 designs tackle these requirements.
The BigRep PRO provides fast 3D printing, fine resolutions, and strong parts, applicable for prototyping, tooling, and end-use parts solutions. Its robust and stable heavy-duty framework, engineered for high speed, fast acceleration, and heavy payloads, eliminates vibrations during printing, assuring smooth movement of the extruders throughout a reinforced double rail system. In addition, its enclosure, heating systems and filament dry storage guarantee consistent print parameters and safety.
This machine supports third-party 2.85 mm filaments, so the range of possible outcomes you can get from this machine is endless, from prototyping to water-soluble supports to end-use engineering materials. The dual Advanced Capability Extruders (ACE) are specially designed to print composite materials with ultimate precision and speed, reaching outputs of 115 cm3/h (50% more than the standard BigRep extruders). Need even more speed? The lightweight Metering Extruder Technology (MXT) extruders are an even faster alternative to the ACE extruders, reaching outputs of 220 cm3/h.
Last but not least, the BigRep PRO is powered by the state-of-the-art Bosch Rexroth CNC Control System and BigRep’s Precision Motions Portal. This automotive industry level technology comprises 32 sensors, and integrated servomotor encoders offer closed-loop positioning control that can achieve accuracy up to ± 0.2 mm.
Companies like Airbus, Ford and Kawasaki are currently benefiting from this technology.
Massivit 3D machines, as the name suggests, are, in fact, Massive machines. Any part that fits in their 145 x 111 x 180 cm build volume can be printed at surprisingly fast speeds. What’s the secret? Massivit’s unique Gel Dispensing Printing (GDP) technology. Just as it happens with FDM systems, this unique technology deposits material throughout a nozzle; however, it uses their proprietary photo polymeric gels instead of melted filaments. With a UV light integrated into its print head, this material can instantly cure, forming hollow and lightweight structures without relying too much on supports.
These enormous printer systems are ideal for making large-scale props for advertisement, entertainment and art, continuous moulds (Ideal for concrete and plaster) and full-scale mockups at incredible speeds. According to Massivit, this system can print 30 times faster than other technologies.
The model 5000 is this company’s latest addition to their products. This machine is equipped with the Double Material System, enabling each print head to print different materials independently. Compared to previous models, the model 5000 has two new printing modes, “Fast” and “HD”, to enhance speed or resolution according to requirements. While “Fast” thickens layers to enhance speed, “HD” can print layers as thin as 0.5 mm. Lastly, the additional automation features. The Massivit 5000 is equipped with a camera on the printing head tip with image recognition, enabling close monitoring and auto-cleaning. Additionally, 40″ flat panel screen displays live output from 3 internal cameras placed from key angles.
Massivit 3D’s printers are highly requested to create props for advertisement, fashion, education and entertainment in theatres, museums, TV and thematic parts. Some of their best-known clients are Emporio Armani, Fanta and Carolina Herrera. On the side of the engineering industry, companies like ACS Hybrid Inc, SEMA and FAI greatly benefit from concept mockups, moulds and prototypes.
Given how fundamentally different these technologies are and how they distinctively manage the technical data they release, it wasn’t easy to find the right specs to compare. Nonetheless, we can take valuable insight to make our comparison with the following data.
|BigRep PRO||Massivit 5000|
|Technology||FDM, Dual MXT and/or ACE extruders||GDP Dual Material System|
|Build Volume||1020 × 970 × 980 mm (970 l)||1450 x 1110 x 1800 mm (2897 l)|
|Layer Resolution||Min 0.6 mm, Max 0.1 mm (Various nozzle diameters)||Min 1.5 mm (Fast), Max 0.5 mm (HD)|
|Consumables||BigRep certified large scale spools (Up to 8kg), also compatible with any 2.85 mm third-party filaments||Proprietary |
Dimengel 110 (Enables HD printing)
|Speed||Maximum output of the extruder with 1 mm nozzle: 115 cm3/h (ACE) |
220 cm3/h (MXT)
|300 mm/sec linear speed 35 cm/h on Z-axis (For 1m diameter cylinder)|
|Control Features||Bosch Rexroth CNC Control System (Camera, 32 sensors, servo encoders)||Print head tip with integrated camera and computer vision, 3 additional cameras from different angles|
|Software||BigRep BLADE (Free software)||Massivit SMART Pro Slicer (Additional license costs)|
Now let’s do some key insights. A comparison between these gargantuans shouldn’t lack build volumes, so we’ll start with that. Then, of course, materials, an essential part of all 3D printer comparisons. Lastly, speed; As we pointed out, a top requirement for large scale 3D printing.
If the BigRep PRO is big, then the Massivit 5000 is massive, just as their names accurately imply. The 1 m3 of the first one falls short in front of the 3 m3 of the latter. The reason for this is that while BigRep takes the existing FDM approach to its maximum capacity, Massivit created a whole new method specifically focused on large scale parts. Nonetheless, the FDM technology still has many advantages over GDP (As we’ll see in the next section), and BigRep takes it to full scale exceptionally.
Perhaps the highest praise we can give to the Massivit 5000’s build volume is not the size itself but how it uses that space. The Dual Material System enables each print head to make different parts with complete independence; it’s like having two printers in one!
Most people reading this article should be familiar with FDM consumables. Thermoplastic filament spools with a comprehensive arrangement of materials and blends, used in countless applications. Most FDM printers are open-source, allowing you to expand even more your possibilities with third-party spools. BigRep is not an exception to that trend, which is an enormous advantage over the limited Massivit’s proprietary gel options.
Although only compatible with three options, them being Dimengel 90, 100 and 110, Massivit’s materials can deliver results that no FDM material could hope to achieve. These acrylic gels can flow smoothly and cure on the fly, enabling ultimate layer adhesion, precision and stability. As a result, you get massive nonvertical structures fast and without even needing supports.
Now, everything ok with printing performance, but what about their mechanical properties? Are they strong? Are they fragile? How do they compare to materials we’re more familiar with? The following table compares Massivit’s Dimengel 100 with some key BigRep engineering materials.
|Tensile Strength (MPa)||Tensile Modulus (MPa)||Flexural Modulus (MPa)||HDT (°C, ISO 75)||Shore Hardness (D)|
|Massivit Dimengel 100||47||2380||6410||50 – 51||80 – 85|
|BigRep High-Temp CF||65||7000||115|
|BigRep PET CF||100||8000||>100|
Surprisingly, some of these gels properties are comparable or even superior to those of engineering materials. In the end, you can expect quite durable and sturdy parts from a Massivit printer; you won’t be disappointed.
Making a speed comparison in 3D printing is never easy. Many factors like part geometries, print head trajectories, temperatures and hardware maintenance can affect speed performances; it depends on the context. So, we must first define what we mean by speed and under what circumstances we’re comparing. In this case, we’ll take the maximum material throughputs each company is claiming their printers provide.
BigRep claims their MXT extruders can print at 220 cm3/h with a 1 mm nozzle, while the Massivit 5000 specs point out at 35 cm/h z-axis speed for a 1m diameter hollow cylinder with a single wall, in “Normal” mode (1.3 mm thick). How do we compare these numbers? Well, if we calculate the cylinder’s XY cross area, we get 40.8 cm2. Multiply by the Z-axis speed of 35 cm/h, and we get 1428 cm3/h, 6.5 times faster than BigRep!
So, we can say that the Massivit 5000 can print at “Normal” mode 6.5 times faster than the BigRep Pro with the MXT extruder equipped. Again, this is only a rough estimation, and many other factors might play a role here.
The printer you choose depends on your goals and applications. On the one hand, the BigRep PRO offers the benefits, versatility and wide range of applications you would expect from standard FDM printing but at exceptional bigger sizes and industrial qualities. On the other hand, Massivit 5000’s GDP is a powerful technology like none other; however, limited to very specific uses. Before making such a substantial investment, you must be entirely sure that GDP is the way to go for your application.