3D Printing in Mid-Air on a Conveyor Belt 3D Printer

Conveyor belt 3D printers can 3D print in mid-air along the belt axis. This enables difficult shapes to be 3D printed on a that would need support material on a traditional 3D printer. We wanted a model that could show off this capability, and make a functional object.

I drew up a scoop design and got to printing. With a conveyor belt 3D printer, you could create all the small shovels you want for a day at the beach!

How 3D Printing in Mid-Air Works

Conveyor belt 3D printers handle overhangs differently compared to conventional 3D printers. The X and Y axiis are positioned at an angle to the Z-axis. This means the machines essentially always 3D print at an overhang. In the conveyor belt direction, features can be printed successfully that would droop or fall over on a conventional 3D printer.

This concept is a little tough to put into words. Take a look at the images below to get a better idea of how 3D printing in mid-air is enabled. We discuss this, and other factors that affect the best model orientation over at this post: How to Orient Models for a Conveyor Belt 3D Printer

3D printer overhang angle
Traditional 3D printers can print at an angle up to 45 degrees
conveyor belt 3D printer overhang angle
Conveyor belt 3D printers can print at any angle in the direction of the belt