A new type of 3-D printer has been demonstrated at Sliperiet, Umeå Arts Campus. Suspended on thin fishing lines, the “Hangprinter” is currently making a Tower of Babel as part of the +Project innovation initiative. The machine's innovative spiderlike set up does not depend on a box, frame or rails; the printer can instead be attached to any stable surface, opening up a number of opportunities.
The Tower of Babel is not only the tallest object made by the Hangprinter so far, but much taller than the scope of any commercially available large format printer.
"As far as I know, the HangPrinter is the only 3-D printer of its kind. There are parallel cable-driven robots and other cable-driven 3-D printers, but the HangPrinter is unique in that all the parts except the energy source are mounted on the mobile device, and that it can use existing structures—in this case the walls—as a frame," says Torbjørn Ludvigsen, inventor of the HangPrinter.
Torbjørn Ludvigsen started working on the HangPrinter while still a student at Umeå University, and the initial motive for designing a hanging printer was to bring down production costs. According to Ludvigsen, the frame was almost half the cost of the final 3-D printer.
Ludvigsen proved its feasibility with a first prototype last year and has been improving the method and device ever since. The printer can be put together for a fraction of the cost of other large format printers.
The device offers printing opportunities that include printing over vast areas and printing large volumes—horizontally and vertically—without the need to build rails or frames. The setup could also be scaled up and adapted for other materials. Future versions of the device could be equipped with sensors for greater precision and outdoor use.