I was a bit shocked when I saw a press release from Israel-based Modix that touted a coming “Personal Car Factory 3D Printer”.
Could someone 3D print their own car? It seems to me that level of additive manufacturing tech is still a bit into the future. Maybe quite a bit.
But it turns out that the announcement has more to do with “Factory” than it does to “Personal”.
The new Modix MAMA (“Modular Additive Manufacturing Assembler”) is a thermoplastic 3D printer with a selection of possible build volumes between 1 x 1 x 1 m to an enormous 2 x 5 x 1 m. To put that in perspective, the biggest Modix MAMA build volume is about 1000X the volume of a standard desktop 3D printer.
This is a very big machine, indeed.
3D Printing Cars?
However, it will not literally 3D print a full-size automobile. But it could be used in an automobile factory to print large components, like fenders or dashboards in one print operation. Thus it is more like a “3D printer for a car factory”. As for the “personal” aspect, read on.
Prints of this volume would normally take unbelievably long durations. Using a standard 0.4mm nozzle and filament extrusion system, 3D printing a 180mm car model on a desktop device could take as long as 13 hours. But scaling that up to the size of the Modix MAMA could result in a print time of something near two months, a completely impractical duration.
Modix MAMA Extrusion
Modix has resolved this issue by including the ability to attach ultra-high performance extrusion systems on the Modix MAMA. They say they can install, for example, the Dyze Pulsar system, which uses pellets as input instead of filament and can 3D print several kg of thermoplastic per hour, making the Modix MAMA quite practical.
Modix has been producing large-format 3D printers for some time, and because of that they’ve been directly working with multiple clients who have explained their functional needs to Modix. It turns out that one of the needs is for a large-format 3D printer that can produce huge parts in one piece, and that’s precisely what Modix has built here.
Modix MAMA Applications
Although intended for their existing clients and similar businesses, Modix believes there are several other industries that could make very good use from the Modix MAMA system. These would include marketing, where enormous props could be quickly printed, or the construction industry, where huge molds could be prepared for casting unusual shapes.
Modix MAMA Pricing
There’s one other very unusual aspect to the Modix MAMA: its price.
While we don’t yet know the exact pricing of the Modix MAMA as the company intends on announcing details in Q1 next year, they do hint that it could be spectacularly lower than existing large-format 3D printing options. Current large format options are typically priced far above US$100K, or even multiples of US$100K, but I get a sense that Modix will price the MAMA at something less than US$100K.
Large 3D Printer Kit
How can they achieve such pricing? They seem to have taken a page from the desktop 3D printer manufacturers: they’re going to offer the Modix MAMA as a self-assembly kit!
You’re reading that right: it is a 3D printer kit that can produce objects measured in meters. I suspect this is why Modix termed the machine “personal”. I’m not sure what steps Modix will take to achieve this goal, as the assembly of such a large machine would be a bit different than the typical desktop kit. Certainly you’d need more than the usual one-page “quick start” guide.
Evidently, Modix will be exhibiting a 1 x 1 x 1 venison of the Modix MAMA at Formnext in a few weeks, equipped with the Dyze Pulsar extrusion system. We’re certainly going to drop by and take a much closer look at this huge machine.