today is May 24, 2022

While FDM printers have gotten bigger lately, there’s almost always going to be a part that is bigger than your bed. The answer? Break your design into parts and assemble them after printing. However, the exact method to do this is a bit of a personal choice. A mechanical engineering student wrote:

After researching the state of the art as well as your ideas here on reddit, I realized, that there are almost no universal approaches to divide a large part and join the pieces which maintain mechanical strength, precisely position each segment, and also counteract tolerances due to the FDM-process.

Therefore I tried to develop a universal method to segment large trim parts, additively manufacture each segment and finally join those segments to form the desired overall part.

The result is a research paper you can download for free. The method focuses on thin parts intended as automotive trim, but could probably be applied to other cases.

You can read about the thought process, but the final result was a joggle — a joint made with a rabbet and tongue. Adhesive holds it together, but the joint offers advantages in constraining the final product and the transmission of force in the assembly. Judging by the picture, the process works well. It would be interesting to see slicer software develop the capability to segment a large model using this or a similar technique.

Of course, you can just build a bigger printer, at least to a point. It seems, though, that that point is pretty big.