At the heart of many of today's 3D printers is a stationary print bed, which means that if you want to print a really, really long object like a company logo for above the office door or hollow tubing, it would likely take several print runs and some glue. The BlackBelt from Stephan Schürmann replaces the print bed of old with a conveyor belt, which allows for continuous printing.
Currently the subject of a Kickstarter funding campaign, the BlackBelt has been 3 years in development – going for CAD-modeled concept to prototype to production ready. Its carbon fiber composite conveyor belt allows for continuous printing of long objects, with the option of going really, really long by placing a roller module unit in front of the conveyor belt, or continuous batch production of smaller single build parts, which can be collected in a bin at the end.
The build area is given as 340 mm wide, 340 mm high and an infinite length, and the interchangeable print head (it comes with three – 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm) can be set at 15°, 25°, 34° or 45° angles, which means creators don't need to rely on support structures for overhangs in complex prints.
Its maker says that the BlackBelt can be made available as either a desktop unit or a floorstanding machine, and can be customized to match buyer needs. The pre-production prototype has been tested with ABS, PLA and PETG, though Schürmann does suggest that other materials may be supported.
The expected retail price is €9,500 (about US$10,600) for the desktop model, or €12,500 for the freestanding version, but significant reductions are being offered to Kickstarter backers. Pledges for the desktop unit start at €6,500 (not including shipping costs). The project met its modest funding target within minutes of going live and, if all goes to plan, delivery is estimated to start in October. Check out the pitch video below.