Airwolf 3D is unveiling an eagerly anticipated new machine, which has been under meticulous development for a considerable period. In an exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to sit down with Erick Wolf, the visionary founder of Airwolf 3D, to gain valuable insights and perspectives on this exciting upcoming product.
What makes Airwolf 3D printers so reliable?
“It’s a combination of factors. It starts with the materials; we use the best materials we can source. For example, instead of plastic, we use aluminum extensively, and we opt for linear guides over traditional ball bearings and rods. Additionally, we design most of our components in-house. For instance, our microcontroller has been continuously updated for five years. We’ve also developed an exclusive design for the G-series hot end, and all its components are produced in-house. Moreover, we write our own software, allowing us to provide a custom-tailored experience to our users who require reliability, repeatability, and durability from our machines. Our 3D printers are designed to run at least 100 hours at a time, ensuring the production of large, consistent parts.”
In recent years, we have witnessed significant changes in the additive manufacturing ecosystem. Many reputable brands have ceased operations, while others have merged with competitors. After 11 years in the industry, what sets Airwolf apart and ensures its enduring success?
“Airwolf is a brand developed by engineers in the United States for like-minded enthusiasts and professionals. We’ve stayed true to our core principles of innovation and providing durable products to our end users. One thing we do that’s probably uncommon in our industry is accept trade-in 3D printers, both for our brand and other brands. This creates a strong secondary market for Airwolf 3D printers. When we receive a trade-in, we refurbish it, and often these “demo” 3D printers find their way into schools. This allows customers to upgrade their technology while giving others, with more limited means, the opportunity to access reliable equipment.”
I hear that you manufacture your printers in the U.S. Is that true, or do you simply assemble them here in Las Vegas?
“Yes, we do manufacture our printers here in the US. We produce many metal parts in-house through milling and laser cutting and engrave many parts. For the frames, we rely on an excellent local vendor. We source other components from local vendors and carry out the assembly at our facility in Las Vegas. To ensure dimensional accuracy and performance, we also extrude most Airwolf filament in-house.”
What motivated you to develop a larger printer?
“Ever since we established our business in 2012, customers have consistently requested larger printers. However, we have been cautious about introducing new printer versions until they undergo thorough testing and durability cycling. Expanding to a larger format, nearly 2 feet wide, almost 2 feet high, and about 1 foot deep machine, comes with various challenges. The power requirements alone for producing printers capable of creating full-size parts in ABS thermoplastic can be daunting.
ABS printing, especially for parts at least 8 inches in height or taller (which is typical for most of our printers now), demands a heated chamber. Some of our 3D printers like the EVO 22 and EVO 2X can print up to 22 inches high, making a heated chamber essential. While the heated chamber consumes a significant amount of power, other requirements such as a heated bed for materials like ABS and polycarbonate pose additional heating demands.
For instance, with polycarbonate we elevate the heat bed to 160°C, significantly higher than most competitors, to ensure proper adhesion and prevent warping. This, combined with our WolfBite system, helps deliver optimal results. In summary, when manufacturing these large 3D printers, power consumption and efficiency are crucial factors. With the EVO 2X, we have found ways to conserve a significant amount of power compared to our previous printers, allowing them to be safely plugged into a standard 110-volt wall outlet.”
So you’re saying that there are no special power requirements?
“That’s right. You can plug this printer into a standard wall outlet, just like any other appliance, and it does not have any special requirements other than a standard household socket.”
How hot does the chamber and the heated bed get? What is the hottest material you can print with?
“With polycarbonate, the heated bed reaches a temperature of 160°C, and the chamber stays over 70°C. Our most common application, aside from obvious materials like PLA and PTG, is ABS plastic. We test the machines with a full-size part made of ABS, requiring a consistent chamber temperature of at least 65°C throughout the printing process. The heated bed remains at around 135°C for the printing time needed for large parts, and these prints can last 100 hours or more.”
There are other competing larger printers on the market. What makes the EVO 2X so special and what sets it apart?
“With the EVO 2X, we now have the ability to print approximately twice as large as our previously largest printer, the EVO 22. Additionally, the software has made significant progress in the last five years. Since the software is developed in-house, we can easily handle unexpected events like power outages or filament breaks during long prints. Using our touch screen software, we can fully recover the print job without any hassle. At Airwolf, we abide by the adage of ‘expect the unexpected’.
Currently, we are printing full-size car automotive bodies. During the three or four days of printing, unexpected issues may arise. Nevertheless, we are proud to say that these machines have successfully produced parts without any concerns about failures.”
How large is the platform on the new EVO 2X?
“The platform is 24 inches by 12 inches, and it can go up to 22 inches high. However, with ABS, we prefer to be conservative to ensure perfect adhesion on all corners. Therefore, the adjusted build size for ABS is 22 inches by 11 inches by 22 inches tall. The heated bed can reach up to 160°C, and the G-series hot end can be taken all the way to 315°C.”
I imagine trying to print something that tall would take a very, very long time. You mentioned that this is the fastest printer. How fast is it, and what makes it so fast?
“Using a 1.2mm nozzle is the most efficient way to produce these large parts, but these prints can still last 80 to 120 hours. Now, when we talk about speed, we refer to how much material we can extrude per day or per hour. As a rule of thumb, with a large nozzle, we can extrude about four to five pounds of material a day. This capacity allows us to print substantial objects quickly and efficiently.”
What is the best resolution on your printer?
“Our printer offers exceptional material versatility, allowing us to work with various materials like polycarbonate, nylons, PETG, and ABS. This versatility extends to resolution options as well. For maximum resolution, similar to our other EVO printers, including our smallest EVO R, we can use a 0.35-millimeter nozzle, capturing incredible detail.
To quantify the resolution, let’s look at some numbers. With the 0.35mm nozzle, layer heights frequently range from 0.1 to 0.16 millimeters. Stepping resolution is 0.05 millimeters. When using a 0.5 millimeter nozzle, we like to hold tolerances on parts at plus minus five thousandths of an inch (.13 mm).”
For those readers ready to upgrade to the larger EVO 2X printer, what’s the learning curve? Do you offer training?
“One of the beauties of Airwolf 3D is our commitment to providing training through Airwolf 3D University. Users can learn enough to operate the machine safely and productively. The course consists of six parts, accessible online, with quizzes throughout to ensure users acquire the necessary skills to run the machines.
Moreover, users have the option to attend in-person training at either our Las Vegas or Miami facility, and these sessions are complimentary. Additionally, for a small fee, our trainers can travel to the user’s location to provide training, set up the equipment, and assist with the software.”
REQUEST A QUOTE