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Global industries are boarding the additive manufacturing train – in Berlin!

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To say we’ve been focused on tapping new potential this year would be an understatement. Front of mind for BigRep has been work on exciting projects and partnerships to discover new end-use manufacturing applications for our advanced large-scale 3D printer technology.

In late October I had the pleasure of sharing a podium with Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) Stefanie Brickwede at the dynamic CREATING URBAN TECH conference in Berlin, to discuss the successful cooperation between BigRep and DB. We spoke on this again at formnext on 14th November in Frankfurt. BigRep is a member of Mobility goes Additive, a network which DB initiated to develop additive manufacturing solutions for the logistics and mobility sectors. We have been working together to explore how DB can use BigRep’s additive manufacturing technologies to further their business and improve efficiency.

DB and additive manufacturing
BigRep CEO René Gurka & Deutsche Bahn’s Stefanie Brickwede at CREATING URBAN TECH

We can highlight three key outcomes of the partnership to date. All three are typical of the benefits industrial organisations encounter when utilizing our technology.

Firstly, Deutsche Bahn has identified that 10-15% of their demand for spare parts could be met with 3D prints. This approach can reduce production time and costs, and facilitate a dramatic reduction in necessary spare parts inventory. They expect to 3D print an impressive 15,000 spare parts in 2018.

Secondly, they are finding potential to use additive manufacturing to develop new kinds of end-use products. This article describes one example, a new design for a printed part with braille on its surface.

Finally, DB believes that the development of new 3D printer materials will be the key to determining how much end-use manufacturing it can do in future with 3D printing technology.

This joint project we have with Deutsche Bahn illustrates the new value that comes when companies invest together in exploring how new techniques can be applied to existing and upcoming design challenges. It, as well as developments within Mobility goes Additive, also shows that Berlin is becoming a hub for innovative developments in the emerging additive manufacturing sector.

But the story, and especially that final point, also illustrates that we have choices to make. We have the option to pursue networking opportunities in this technology to their limits and develop the next generation of high value technologies. Or, if we pursue these opportunities less aggressively, other firms and other cities will get there first and reap the rewards.

additive manufacturing - 3d printing filament
Developing new 3D printer materials is a core aspect of BigRep’s development of new additive manufacturing applications

We are conscious of this choice when it comes to Deutsche Bahn and Mobility goes Additive, and will seek to sustain our close working relationship to develop new 3D printer materials, hardware and techniques to fully explore the potential for this cooperation. What I discussed at CREATING URBAN TECH, as well as at formnext in Frankfurt (on 14th November), is that we need to apply the same thinking to Berlin and its own potential in terms of additive manufacturing. I believe that to take ourselves from a promising hub to that central, world-leading position, we should formally nurture networking activities between businesses and other research organisations in the sector, for example, with a Centre of Excellence in Additive Manufacturing in Berlin. Can we 3D print that?

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Learn more about modeling, building and testing custom products fast and cost-efficiently

René is the founder and CEO of BigRep GmbH, driving it to be one of the world-leading 3D printing companies, with his many years of experience in business development and innovative technologies.

Connect with René on Linkedin HERE.

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Formnext 2017: what prospects for the industrial 3D printer sector?

Representatives from across industry meeting at the BigRep stand at Formnext 2017Posted on in

Formnext 2017 was another great event for industrial 3D printer enthusiasts. More companies have joined the race to bring 3D print technology to maturity and we saw plenty of new products on offer. Overall, a clear message came across – that additive manufacturing is here to stay and will continue to dramatically change the way we design and manufacture products.

Before discussing which technology and/or company is most likely to lead the industrial 3D printer market in coming years, we will investigate two key areas – 3D print solutions for prototyping and for manufacturing.

3D Printers for Prototypes

Within this segment of the market affordable 3D printers for plastic prototyping are making headway. These are not necessarily cheap 3D printers, but machines which strike a lower-cost balance between functionality and price. In the past such machines had few features and competed mainly on price. At Formnext 2017 we saw more sophisticated machines which can be used for specific applications such as dental and other fit-form-function applications. This means that higher-cost machines dedicated to prototyping must offer unique features to be attractive. BigRep offers industry exactly this kind of added-value through its large-scale industrial 3D printers and growing range of specialist 3D printer filaments.

BigRep ONE 3d Printed Furniture Prototype at Formnext 2017
BigRep ONE 3D-printed furniture rapid prototype: large-scale & weight-bearing

3D Printers for Manufacturing

3D printing for manufacturing can be divided into two areas – plastic and metal 3D printing. With plastic, advanced polymers can replace metal for certain applications in Medical, Aerospace and other industries. In such cases if superior mechanical properties and/or larger parts can be delivered we have a more attractive solution. If printing speeds increase, plastic 3D printing could also potentially replace injection molding in some manufacturing applications.

The second manufacturing area, metal 3D printing made a big splash at Formnext 2017. On the one hand the prices of some lower-spec machines seem to be falling, making metal 3D printers more accessible. At the same time, new heavy metal printers are aiming to deepen the automation and integration of 3D printing in manufacturing processes with a focus on quality, variety of materials and printing speed.

End-use spare parts produced for Deustche Bahn on display at Formnext 2017
At Formnext 2017 BigRep showcased end-use spare parts produced for Deustche Bahn

Looking forward – what will be the name of the industrial 3D printer game?

If we look at it from the industrial user’s side, before purchasing a 3D printer the following elements are usually considered:

  • The company behind the product – is it a short or long-term player?
  • Quality, accuracy & repeatability – the basics of effective additive manufacturing
  • Reliability & ease of use – for minimum hassle
  • Variety of materials – for a wide range of applications
  • ECO system – inclusion of a dedicated Software solution. This is particularly critical in the metal printing space
  • Printing speed – this must increase to increase productivity, especially in manufacturing
  • Reasonable cost per value – an essential requirement of the end user

So which company and/or technology has the potential to lead this industry?

It depends on how you measure it, but no doubt a strong combination of a ‘new generation’ technology with a focus on printing speed and advanced materials, plentiful long-term funding, and a winning business strategy will be key success factors for any 3D printer company. Above all one factor will be most important – the people behind the company. Without a professional, experienced, and totally dedicated team driving it forward, any new amazing technology cannot make it. At Formnext 2018 we will see who and which technologies are making the best progress.

Learn more about modeling, building and testing custom products fast and cost-efficiently

Gil Lavi

With over 22 years in the printing industry, Gil Lavi is a Sr. 3D-Printing Specialist with vast experience in implementing diverse 3D-printing technologies in design and manufacturing processes.

Connect with Gil on Linkedin HERE.

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Cutting up to 80% off Large Metal Part Production Time: Sand Casting Using Large-Scale 3D-Printing Solutions

Cut up to 80% off Large Metal Part Production TimePosted on in

In our first two articles about large-scale 3D printing applications we covered Fit-Form-Function and Molds & Tooling. This time we will examine the benefits of integrating 3D printing into the Sand Casting process.

What is Sand Casting?

Sand Molded Casting, also known as Metal Casting, is a process by which a special mold from sand is created to form metal objects at very high temperatures. The technique is widely applied in heavy industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Railway and Shipping as a solution for short-run production. Here’s how it works:

The Sand Casting Process

Sand Casting is a relatively simple process enabling manufacturers to produce metal objects. However, there are several challenges involved, including:

  • High costs
  • Manual labor required
  • Lengthy process duration
  • High margins of error
  • Limitations in producing complicated patterns

How can large-scale 3D printing help?

Traditionally, the replica is made manually using different materials types and techniques. The process is not ‘digital’, meaning it takes longer to complete and can result in accuracy issues.

Integrating large-scale 3D printing into a sand casting process offers the following benefits, as compared to a standard sand casting process:

  • Reducing replica and pattern production time
  • Creating a highly accurate replica from a digital file
  • Significantly lowering costs
  • Replica design flexibility

These advantages are even greater when the pattern-making process is done in-house instead of being outsourced. Production time can be reduced by up to 80%, once the process is fully managed and controlled internally.

Learn more about modeling, building and testing custom products fast and cost-efficiently.

Gil Lavi

With over 22 years in the printing industry, Gil Lavi is a Sr. 3D-Printing Specialist with vast experience in implementing diverse 3d-printing technologies in design and manufacturing processes.

Connect with Gil on Linkedin HERE.

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Launching the BigRep Innovation Award – Open Call to Canadian Students

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After much work across months and time zones, we are thrilled to launch the inaugural BigRep Innovation Award in cooperation with our partner NOVACAD Systems. The Award is an open call for Canadian students to submit an innovative 3D printed chair design, in pursuit of seeing their creation made a reality on the BigRep ONE and a C$3,000 cash prize. The winner will be decided by our four-person expert jury, following a public vote.

Complex, intricate structures emerging from a BigRep ONE

We looked to two of our jury panelists to provide some inspiration and direction to potential entrants on designing for 3D printing: NOVACAD Systems’ Gregor Ash and BigRep’s very own Amir Fattal. They shared their insights on how large-format 3D printers are changing the rules of furniture design and production, and offered some wise advice on harnessing the potential of the technology.

Amir, do you have any tips for young designers as they approach designing a chair for 3D printing, i.e. finding inspiration for structure, colors, materials?

The Ocke Stool. Take a seat, and get inspired

Amir Fattal: First, I would really try to understand the technology – what its advantages and disadvantages are – and then I would try to work to its strengths. In the case of FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), a key advantage is that you can realize complex geometric structures with internal features as intricate as those on the outside.

Sometimes building a support structure is a method of making it possible to print at a certain angle. If you can avoid that need with a clever bit of design or, if needed, build the support structure in a smart way, this can help increase the quality of the final print. I draw design inspiration from a number of design sites, such as de zeen and Design Boom.

How do you see large format 3D printing changing manufacturing and design?

Gregor Ash: Well, just the name entails the fact that designers are now able to produce their designs at near full or full scale, which is a huge game changer. They’ve been relegated in the past to smaller models and having to do testing on a very small limited scale. So, this combined with some incredible things happening with materials and that fact that designers are able not only just to prototype, but also to produce finished products, will change the way people conceive and produce their ideas.

Another demonstration of the diversity of forms which can be 3D printed

Do you have any tips for the latter stages of the design process? What do entrants need to make sure they get done/avoid falling into/focus on as the submission deadline closes in?

Gregor Ash: We’re looking for design and function as well – the whole idea of ergonomics and comfort. So, having a sense of how conceptual design from an aesthetic point of view connects to the concepts of materiality, in terms of how the item is constructed overall and going to hold together, is essential.

What is the most exciting design/object you have seen printed recently on a BigRep ONE? 

Amir Fattal: One of my favorite designs is the Ocke Stool that was created in-house by our designer Beatrice Mueller. This is a design which utilizes the steepest angle you can print in FDM without using a support structure. The design grows from the print bed upwards in a very similar way to how a natural structure like a tree or leaf develops. The print emerges directly from the machine as a complete chair, needing no other post-processing.

The Ocke Stool: clearly thought out and executed

More information about the Innovation Award, including entry requirements and student resources, can be found HERE.

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Advanced Applications: Molds & Tooling – Large Scale 3D Printing

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In the last article we discussed the use of large-scale 3d printing in design and concept modeling processes. It is now time to examine more advanced applications. As heavy industries look for ways to save costs by implementing 3D-Printing in short run production/manufacturing, we turn to the question of whether and how large-scale 3dp solutions can face this challenge.

“But large-scale FDM 3d-printing is not there yet,” you might say. “How can one use this technology to produce end use parts?” Well, not only is it possible, but it also has the potential to solve unique challenges manufacturers are facing today with production of large objects.

All parts below were printed with the BigRep Large Scale 3D-Printing Technology

Molds and Production Tooling
3d-printing provides developers and manufacturers with an efficient way to produce one or several custom design products. In the following example, a large mold was printed and was used as a lay-up tool for a composite structure to produce the final part. Here’s an overview of the process:

2D Printed Large-Scale MOLD

Step 1 – Printing a large-scale mold

Step 2 - coating & post processing

Step 2 – Coating & post-processing

Step 3 – Carbon Fiber sheets coating

Step 3 – Carbon fiber sheet coating

Step 4 - resin injection (vacuum infusion)

Step 4 – Resin injection (vacuum infusion)

Initial production was completed with injection of the resin into the mold. After post-processing and finishing it was installed on a racing car as a fully functional end use part:

Perfect fit

Perfect fit! “Everybody, Start Your Engines…”


  • Achieving higher accuracy compared to non-3D printing methods when working with wood and foam
  • Drastically shortening the production time of an end-use part
  • Making considerable cost savings compared with producing the same part with a CNC machine.

Another great example
A fabricated forming mold to produce a new bus lighting panel design, using a similar process:

BusTech -BigRep

Step 1 – Printing a large-scale mold

BusTech & BigRep - Industrial 3D Printing

Step 2 – Producing the end use part


  • Shortening production time by 50% compared to working with CNC
  • Costs lower than they would be using alternative techniques or other more expensive 3D printing technologies

The next article will examine possible sand/metal casting applications of large-scale 3D printing.


Learn more about modeling, building and testing custom products fast and cost-efficiently.

Gil Lavi

With over 22 years in the printing industry, Gil Lavi is a Sr. 3D-Printing Specialist with vast experience in implementing diverse 3d-printing technologies in design and manufacturing processes.

Connect with Gil on Linkedin HERE.