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Rotary 3D Printing (or 4th-axis 3D Printing)

Updated: Sep 1

Printing around a cylinder, rather than on a flat bad, offers a number of advantages, including: reduction or elimination of support material, reduced warping, increased strength, and better-looking parts.


How are these benefits achieved with rotary printing?

  • Less Support Material: For parts with roughly cylindrical geometry, rotary printing can reduce the separating volume between the part and build “platform.”

  • Reduced Warping: For solid infill parts especially, building in rotary form can drastically reduce deformation due to thermal stresses. Starting with an arbor of solid stock, the part can be built outward, then the excess starting stock can be trimmed off the ends.

  • Increased strength. Along with reduced deformation, full cylindrical layers result in a stronger part because the thermal strains result in hoop stress rather than unresisted shear as in planar printing

  • Improved Aesthetics. Building outward eliminates the issue of the differing charateristics of printed parts on the bottom side. The external surfaces of parts can be more fully finished in rotary builds. For organic shaped parts, the topology lines of rotary prints are also more attractive.

The toolchain and many of the subsystems necessary for Rotary Printing are already well-established in the H-Series platform: see online manual page here. Dozens of H-Series machines around the world are doing this on a regular basis for small-to-medium diameter parts. But...


A dedicated Rotary printer (R-Series) is in the works (at the conceptual stage at this point.) The idea for this product is to take one of the novel capabilities of the H-series and optimize it in a dedicated system. This will be a machine that builds parts using cylindrical rather than planar layers.

Large-diameter Rotary-only FDM machine

For many part geometries, this machine offers significant advantages over a typical 3D printer:

  • Printing on Fabric and Mesh. Fabric stretched over a cylindrical surface is held “down” tightly to the surface

  • Large Print Area. The R-Series Machine will allow mandrels up to ~500mm in diameter and 500mm width.

  • Print on a mesh arbor covering for easy removal

  • Large print area for the footprint (surface area of large drum)

  • Can print long continuous parts in helical format (belting, etc)

Other R-Series features will include:

  • Touch probe leveling

  • 2 print heads (independent X)

  • Quick change arbors of various sizes, low runout

  • Heated Build environment (upgrade)

  • Dry Filament Cabinet (upgrade)

  • Cleaning station(s)

  • Other H-Series workholding options and upgrades

What kinds of things can you build with the R-Series? The possibilities are endless with this new build environment. But here are some ideas:

3-material Rotary 3D Print
Large Diameter Rotary 3D Print

Wearable items (often rubber/plastic combined with fabric):

  • Helmets, Splints, braces, orthotics

  • Costumes and Cosplay - masks, wearables, etc

  • Racing apparel (motorsports jackets, knee-pads, and such)

  • Tactical gear - gloves, holsters, etc

  • Backpacks, duffels, tough-gear, etc

  • Footwear and other sporting goods

Power transmission components:

  • Rotary motion often means cylindrical geometries.

  • Pulleys, sprockets, wheels, boots, canisters, jackets, seals

  • Industrial belting, custom edge trim, long would-be-extrusions (printed helical)

  • Tracks (for robots, rovers, snowblowers, etc)

Long flexible items:

  • Rubber webbing, custom netting, rubber treads, lashing-type components, etc

  • Signs, Labels, Tags (cattle ear tags…etc)

  • Decals, logos, embossed shapes on fabric…

  • Adjacent to vinyl cutter, sewing machines, etc

  • Trim out features for sewing, like stitching holes, eyelets, grommets, etc









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