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Obwalden researchers working on massive 3D printer

European specialists are currently developing the largest 3D printer in the world. The centrepiece of the robot – its system control – is being developed by the CSEM research centre in the canton of Obwalden.

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Image Credit: MAD

The new 3D printer stands on yellow metal legs and is equipped with a robotic arm and other features that allow it to work across a length of 20 metres. The robot is designed to assist in the manufacture of car bodies, aircraft wings and wind turbines. In addition to 3D printing, it should also be capable of milling, polishing and drilling – all the while reducing manufacturing costs. Major firms such as Airbus have already expressed interest in the 3D printer, according to an article in the Obwaldner Zeitung.

Experts from eight European countries are building the robot, and the project is being partly financed by the EU. Researchers from the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) are also involved in the project by developing the robot’s system control

“Our goal is a control software that limits the deviation of the robot from the targeted result to just the sub-millimetre range,” said Philipp Schmid, head of automation and robotics at CSEM. “Achieving such precision is not all that easy with these huge dimensions.”

According to Schmid, CSEM was selected for the project due to its “good international reputation in the field of robots and control technology”. Located in Alpnach, the research centre is supported by all Central Switzerland cantons and various companies through the microtechnology centre of competence Micro Center Central Switzerland (MCCS).

The project recently reached the halfway point of its three-year schedule, with Schmid giving it a positive result overall: “Of course, there are always stumbling blocks, and organising the cooperation between the various research teams is very complex. Nevertheless, we have already achieved very good results with the tests."

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