Students Bring “Breathing” Audi Car Seat to Life with 3D Printing

Audi Car Seat by Braunschweig students "Concept Breathe"

Responsive car seat enabled by large-format 3D printing showcases innovation potential for additive manufacturing in the automotive space.

While the focus is often on engine power and exterior design when talking about cars, there is another automotive feature ripe for innovation. The car seat, which functions as the interface between driver and vehicle, is one of the most important elements of a car and must offer ergonomic support, safety features, and comfort.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on how to reinvent and improve automotive seating using new design concepts and advanced manufacturing, such as 3D printing. One such project, entitled “Concept Breathe”, was the result of a collaboration between students at the Braunschweig University of Art, German automotive manufacturer Audi, and large-format 3D printing specialist BigRep.

A Multi-Partner Effort

Concept Breathe, which culminated in the creation of a full-sized “breathable” car seat, was born out of an exploration into the car of the future. The Braunschweig design students, under the supervision of Dr. Manuel Kretzer, a professor of Material and Technology, and Audi’s development/innovation unit led by Mike Herbig, were inspired by the idea that the car of the future could have a greater connection to the driver. As they say: “What if it were to become a partner that reacts and responds to our actions, an organism, a friend, that lives and breathes?”

Interestingly, Audi had already started pursuing this idea with the development of Klara, a “sensitive Audi A1” in 2017. This concept study aimed to foster greater empathy between automobile and driver by creating a sensitive car that appears to breathe. The breathing effect was the result of 39 electric motors installed under the car’s metalwork and several sensors that would enable Klara to take breaths and react to its surroundings.

The Concept Breathe car seat project, undertaken in the spring of 2017, was an extension of the experimental Klara initiative that sought to combine different technologies and design principles to create a more human car seat that could dynamically move along with the driver.

“What if the seat were to become a partner that reacts and responds to our actions, an organism, a friend, that lives and breathes?”

Braunschweig student designs for Audi seat "Concept Breathe"
Design and Form studies in side view by Maximilian Dauscha

Conceiving of ‘Concept Breathe’

The seating project was spearheaded by a group of 10 bachelor students at the Braunschweig University of Art as part of their Digital Crafting module. The courses in this module are specifically aimed at developing “an experimental understanding of emerging design opportunities” by leveraging innovative algorithmic and parametric design principles, as well as digital manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, which bring design concepts to life.

Ultimately, the car seat’s design was inspired by organic shapes and systems and consisted of several active components integrated into a lightweight frame. Due to the final design’s complex geometry—which was the result of several parametrically designed iterations—the student team and their partners decided to 3D print the 1:1 seat prototype. BigRep, known for its large-scale 3D printers, was more than up to the task.

The seat structure was 3D printed using the BigRep ONE machine, which has a large build volume of up to one cubic meter, and BigRep’s PRO HT filament, an easy-to-print biopolymer with enhanced temperature resistance compared to traditional PLA. The printing process took nearly 10 days to complete, which at the time marked BigRep’s longest print.

Onto the 3D printed frame were attached 38 customized active components, which created a haptic and visual breathing effect, along with a range of specially designed cushions made from a high-performance textile for optimized comfort and support. As the design team put it: the active components (seen in red) “are designed to increase the seat's ability to respond to changing driving conditions but especially to enhance the user's identification with the animate object through motions of breathing.”

Audi Breathe Chair 3D print on BigRep ONE

Paving the Way for Innovation

BigRep’s 3D printing technology was vital to the realization of the project. Not only was the company’s large-format 3D printer equipped to handle the scale of the full-sized car seat structure (reducing the need for post-printing assembly), it was also able to reproduce the product’s complex organic shape. Moreover, 3D printing offered the project partners a cost-accessible way to directly create a large prototype without having to invest in tooling or turn to complex supply chains.

In the same way that large-format 3D printing was critical to bringing this concept design to life, the technology is now being used across the automotive industry to explore new design ideas and bring new innovative solutions to market, from rapid prototypes to end-use parts. In automotive seating applications in particular, there have been a number of projects that leverage the technology’s ability to create complex designs optimized for performance and comfort, as well as customized products at scale.

Similarly, German automaker Porsche recently launched a 3D printed bodyform full-bucket seat that integrates customizable 3D printed lattices for superior support and breathability. Much like Concept Breathe, the 3D printed seat emphasizes the human and technology connection to generate an enhanced driving experience, particularly for high-performance vehicles.

3D Printed Audi Car Seat by Braunschweig Students

3D Printing is the Future of Automotive

Ultimately, the Concept Breathe project would not have been possible without additive manufacturing, particularly BigRep’s large-format 3D printing. The technology proved to be essential for rapidly and cost-effectively bringing an innovative idea to life.

For the broader automotive industry, the ability to 3D print large structures and products in a single piece has huge benefits. For one, it allows for design consolidation, allowing for large structures to be printed in one go, minimizing assembly and post-processing times. This has significant time and cost impacts whether users are printing a design concept, a functional prototype, or an end-use part.

The technology also enables product designers to create previously impossible designs, opening up limitless opportunities for innovation. With it, forward-thinking individuals and teams (such as the Braunschweig design students and their partners at Audi and BigRep) can really dive into new ideas and transform them into something real, something that can shape the future.

To learn more about how 3D printing helped bring the Concept Breathe article to life, check out the following video and the original coverage of the project.

Interested in how the BigRep ONE can unlock your innovation? Learn more about large-scale printing here.

SFM Technology Create the First Helicopter Blade Restraint Cradle With 3D Printing Technology

When tasked with creating restraint cradles that allow helicopters to load safely, SFM Technology turned directly to the BigRep PRO.

Rough seas not only make smooth sailors, they also make smooth engineers who can find innovative solutions to choppy conditions. This is especially true when it comes to aviation, as helicopters are frequently tasked with embarking onto ships during all different types of weather conditions.

Once helicopter flying operations have ceased, they will either stay on the flight deck or be stowed in the ship’s hanger. They use an automatic folding system, folding in their blades like a bumblebee. The issue of stabilization remains a key priority when it comes to the smoothest embarkation possible. This is achieved by using a main rotor blade restraint cradle.

As Gary Wilson, head of Technical Sales at SFM's AeroAdditive division tells us: "When a helicopter is on board a ship, it can fold its helicopter blades back. But at sea it's still windy, and the blades can flap. These blades must be restrained so flapping doesn't occur."

Aerospace and defense giant Leonardo - tasked by the Ministry of Defence to provide AgustaWestland AW101s for the Royal Navy - found that their pre-existing main rotor blade restraint cradles were not living up to their standard. They turned to SFM Technology's AeroAdditive department for the solution, resulting in the first 3D-printed main rotor blade restraint cradle, measuring 900 x 230 x 160mm. Gary Wilson explains how they created the cradle and why he believes this is just the start for additive manufacturing within the aerospace industry.

SFM Technology
The Blade Restraint Cradle, Printed on a BigRep PRO


As a solution had to be found very quickly, SFM relied on the speed of innovation possible with additive manufacturing.

"We had to look at many aspects of 3D printing, including cost, efficiency, and of course, size. Eventually, we looked at the BigRep PRO as we had to look at a production 3D printer. The machine is used as a production machine, so every rotor blade restraint cradle goes to the end customer."


In the aerospace industry, lightweight yet strong parts are essential. After stress-testing their 3D printed parts, SFM Technology found that they performed better than original, non-printed parts. By using Hi-Temp CF – a carbon fiber reinforced material with versatile, high-strength properties – the blades are extremely durable and weather resistant.

The benefits have been manifold.

“To date, we have printed 30 cradles, consisting of 60 halves, since January. If we were to do that in a traditional way, we would have done about a quarter of that. So, you can see that 3D printing is far quicker, as we don’t have any adjustments to make, or if we do, they’re very minor and can be quickly overcome. And the material is just as strong.”



Choosing the right material was crucial in SFM’s choice.

“We carried out many tests to establish which was the most suitable material within the budget given. Having looked at the data sheets, we felt that BigRep's HI-TEMP had a slight advantage over the other BigRep materials.”

Once they remove the support material, sandpaper is used to smooth the surface. Bushes - a type of fixed or removable cylindrical tube - are inserted in the hinges, before using threaded helicoil inserts for fastening when required. After the cradle is painted to the customer's specification, the remaining hardware is embedded along with a protective foam on the inside of the cradle, preventing it from scratching the blade surface.

The Blade Restraint Cradles in Action
The Blade Restraint Cradles in Action


With the main rotor blade restraint cradles already in use, Mr. Wilson attests that this experience shows what 3D printing can achieve in the aerospace industry and that it's only a matter of time before additive manufacturing becomes the norm.

"In the aerospace industry, there are many designers nervous about 3D printing. We've demonstrated that 3D printing can be used in the aerospace industry quite comfortably from a strength, repeatability, and quality side. I know for a fact that as the industry moves forward on 3D printing, there will be more and more accessible paths to use."

SFM Technology are using the BigRep PRO as a batch 3D printer, sequencing production and creating improved results across the board. This follows more aerospace designers discovering the benefits of 3D printing and adopting it in due course. 

Want to learn more about 3D printing and aerospace. Learn about how 3D printing saved Airbus time and money!


The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Explore the PRO


The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Explore the PRO

3D Printing Saves Time and Money as Airbus Innovates R&D Processes


Even though airplanes are flying machines packed with technology, passengers typically perceive them as cramped yet passably comfortable traveling environments. Covers and panels hide all the actuators, cables, and electrical and mechanical devices in the plane walls. They also safely shield functional components from passengers while also contributing to the look and feel of the interior cabin space. These panels are commonly made from fiberglass composite materials due to the combination of low weights with high stiffness and load-bearing capabilities.

Large Parts Traditionally Require Expensive Manufacturing Techniques

Each version of a cover or panel commonly requires mold manufacturing. Glass fiber mats soaked with resin are placed, thus shaping the final panel after curing the resin. This process is time-consuming. It easily takes six to eight weeks to make one larger panel. Additionally, the high amount of manual labor involved causes substantial costs.

Engineers quickly realized that the BigRep ONE could be used in many other areas of research and development.

Product development requires evaluating and improving each design iteration until the best solution is reached. In some cases, designs can be checked through software evaluation. However, many situations require the creation of a physical prototype to properly evaluate its scale, fit, performance, aesthetics, and more. Having a physical object available also facilitates testing of mounting and assembly procedures.

Traditionally, aircraft interior panel prototypes would require CNC machining a mold before hand-laying the fiberglass and finishing the surface. Airbus would typically outsource the CNC machining, which meant they would wait weeks before starting the fiberglass process. Since each new iteration requires a new mold, the process is highly time-consuming and expensive. In many cases, prototypes would not be produced, denying the engineers the chance to improve designs before the final product was produced.

Airbus 3D Printing Airplane Cabin Panels

3D Printing Saves Time and Money During the Development Phases

Highly functional parts like aircraft doors require sophisticated panels, combining technical capabilities with an aesthetic appearance. The hinges, for example, need covers that match the cabin's interior design while also meeting performance and safety benchmarks. Since traditional fiberglass construction for airplane interiors is slow and costly, this restricts the manufacturer's ability to iterate and improve their designs.

Airbus would typically outsource the CNC machining, which meant they would wait weeks before starting the fiberglass process.

Airbus found a solution to this problem in the BigRep ONE 3D printer, which they had originally purchased to support helicopter development. Engineers quickly realized that the BigRep ONE could be used in many other areas of research and development. They began to print prototypes for aircraft interior components. While the Airbus engineers had experience with additive manufacturing on a smaller scale with desktop printers, they realized the enormous advantages of the BigRep ONE's one cubic meter build volume, which allowed them to 3D print prototypes of panels, linings, and covers in full scale, true to size.


How Does Airbus Benefit From BigRep Large Format 3D Printing?

With their BigRep ONE, Airbus engineers can 3D print the part, evaluate it, redesign it, and repeat it as needed until the design is finalized. An added advantage of their in-house BigRep 3D printer is eliminating the long lead times and additional logistics for outsourcing mold production. Relying on full-scale 3D prints for the cycles of design iteration makes this process much more straightforward while saving time and money.

For large parts accurate enough for implementation into aircraft interiors, Airbus engineers relied on BASF's Ultrafuse PRO1 filament to 3D print their prototypes. PRO1 is easy to print and results in a beautiful surface finish without any warping. Airbus engineers noted that the precision of 3D printed prototypes are sufficient for their defined tolerances - particularly for large parts - so they can reliably create and test designs that are very close to the finished product.

While Airbus is constantly 3D printing prototypes with their BigRep ONE, they expect to use it in other areas. Having already learned that they can save a lot of money with 3D printed solutions, the Airbus engineers currently use desktop 3D printers to create some tooling. Their future plans will make use of the one cubic meter build volume of their BigRep 3D printer to produce large scale factory tooling. Learn more about the BigRep ONE here.


The BigRep ONE is an award-winning, large-format 3D printer at an accessible price point. With over 500 systems installed worldwide, it's a trusted tool of designers, innovators, and manufacturers alike. With a massive one-cubic-meter build volume, the fast and reliable ONE brings your designs to life in full scale.

Explore the ONE


The BigRep ONE is an award-winning, large-format 3D printer at an accessible price point. With over 500 systems installed worldwide, it's a trusted tool of designers, innovators, and manufacturers alike. With a massive one-cubic-meter build volume, the fast and reliable ONE brings your designs to life in full scale.

Explore the ONE

About the author:

Michael Eggerdinger <a style="color: #0077b5" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Michael Eggerdinger

Business Manager Materials

Michael is a toolmaker, a mechanical engineer, and a patent engineer. His years of working in manufacturing and as a project manager in various industries provide him with a profound knowledge of the main challenges in modern production processes. In 2017, he bought his first 3D printer to be used at home, and he has been hooked ever since!

How CNC Machining and 3D Printing Can Work Together in your Shop

Do you ask yourself if CNC machining or 3D printing is the better manufacturing process? The answer is simple: “It depends!”

Many workshops rely on CNC machining as the backbone of their production processes. However, with the rise of additive manufacturing, more and more companies think about including 3D printing into the workflow or even replacing their CNC machines. Let us give you an overview of what 3D printing can do for you, and how you can best combine both processes.

Overview of CNC machining or Subtractive Manufacturing


CNC machining uses a computerized tool machine to produce the desired object by removing the surplus material from a blank. It is still the most cost-effective process for manufacturing parts in medium to large numbers. As a tried and tested method, CNC machines are available in workshops all over the world, and extensive knowledge exists about the whole process chain. It is very versatile in terms of materials that can be machined, geometries that can be produced, and achievable surface qualities and tolerances. Therefore, in many cases, CNC machining is still the method of choice.


However, CNC machining is still a highly specialized process, especially if geometries are of higher complexity or challenging materials are involved. CNC machining also requires highly skilled designers and programmers, leading to high personnel costs. Often special clamping tools are required, which must be designed and manufactured as well. This increases part costs, even more so, if the parts are in small numbers. Also, since you are starting with a block of material when CNCing a part, material cost will always be higher, and the amount of waste will also be more.

Overview of 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing


Although various methods of 3D printing have proven to be a viable manufacturing process, it still is not as common as conventional machining. But FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is becoming more and more popular in various industrial branches to produce small to medium batches of end-use parts or prototypes. Plastic is melted, then extruded through a nozzle, and the part is built up layer by layer. Apart from support structures, only the amount of material making up the final part is used, so almost no waste is produced. The object is printed directly on the flat surface of the print bed, so no clamping tools are required.  Only a little specific knowledge is required to set up a BigRep printer and start a print. The printing process itself does not limit the part design in any way; almost any geometry can be printed.  This helps in overcoming established ways of thinking in design and development. Riley Gillman, Technical Operations Manager at Nikola Motor Company said, "You can really challenge the engineering process and the manufacturing process!”


Due to the layer-based process, the surface quality is not comparable to milled parts and can require post-processing to a certain extent. And although more and more parts with very narrow tolerances can be printed, values as they are common for milled parts often cannot be matched.  The choice of material is also limited; FFF only allows plastics to be used that can be melted.

How to Use Your Big 3D Printer Best?

Hand Jigs and Production Tools


This handheld tool that is used during the assembly of cars shows one typical application. The over 120 cm long part was initially planned to be milled out of a block of aluminum. However, overall costs, including machine, personnel, and material costs would have been around 10.000 € with an estimated time to completion of about two weeks. A Chinese manufacturer quoted 5.800 USD with a similar delivery time. Finally, it was decided to print the part in BigRep HI-TEMP CF on a BigRep PRO, which took 32 hours. The costs were about 790 USD, resulting in savings of 86%! A welcome side effect for the users handling the part was a reduction in weight of about 50%, compared to the aluminum version.  All things considered, a very successful use case.

3D Printed End-Use Parts


Boyce Technologies uses 3D printing to produce end-use parts in their 5G kiosks that they make for Verizon. Due to the special shape of these air ducts, milling would have taken a long time and required extensive preparation time and post-processing. By 3D printing the parts instead, huge costs were saved in not only time and material costs, but also with the number of employees required to support preparation and post-processing. With large-format additive manufacturing, another benefit is that many parts can be printed at the same time, allowing for optimal use of the printer’s build volume.

How to Combine 3D Printing and CNC Machining?

The advantages additive manufacturing offers can be increased even more by combining it with other manufacturing processes.  3D printed objects can be reinforced by metal parts in places where higher loads occur; insert nuts made of brass can be inserted in plastic parts. Printed parts can also be machined in order to achieve dimensions with critical tolerances or required surface qualities, or even to mill threads. Jigs and fixtures as well as clamping and positioning tools made by 3D printing facilitate working with CNC machines. By intelligently combining 3D printing and CNC machining, users can benefit from the advantages of both processes.

A perfect example of how the 3D printer is also helpful when designing and manufacturing simple jigs, like positioning or assembly tools, as shown below. In this application, Gillman at Nikola was tasked to find a way to securely hold an aluminum part in place for CMM inspection. The aluminum part itself could not have been produced by 3D printing due to very specific geometrical requirements, so it had to be milled on a CNC machine. But making the fixture from aluminum would have required open space on a CNC machine and a lot of raw material. So, Gillman decided to produce it using his BigRep PRO. From idea to part, it only took a few hours, at material costs of under 20 USD!


In the last few years, Nikola Motor Company has experienced an increased shortage of materials as an ever-decreasing availability of external suppliers. Here a 3D printer offers flexibility and independence.

Riley Gillman summarizes the reasons for using his 3D printer: “Very often, we produce large parts with very challenging time limits. The geometry of the parts plays a large role; some of the parts are simply too complex to manufacture them using conventional methods. And sometimes we simply don’t have the budget to use any other process than 3D printing!”

How Can You Profit from Additive Manufacturing?

3D printing is most commonly used when large parts are required on short notice or when multiple iterations of a single part are needed. 3D printing enables you to make changes to 3D models quickly and easily, and then manufacture them in-house, massively reducing lead times. Functional prototypes are available much faster and you have a better idea of what the final product will look like.

Is it Beneficial for You to Use 3D Printing?

It is important for companies to understand the costs behind a 3D printer and what the ROI will look like. Here is a simple example: If you are paying about 5.000 USD per part with a 3D printing service and you need 4 similar sized parts per month, you will be spending about 20.000 USD a month!  When you start comparing this to what it costs to purchase a printer, it becomes apparent that buying a printer is a worthwhile investment.

Which Process is Best Suited for You?

After all these considerations, the answer “It depends!” is easier to understand. The first step should always be, deciding which technology is best for your part and its intended use. Both processes have their advantages and their own applications, so 3D printing will not fully replace CNC machining.

And if you aim to combine both processes so that they complement each other, buying a 3D printer will give you many benefits, including:

  • increased flexibility and independence
  • time and costs savings
  • expanded manufacturing portfolio
  • improved internal processes

If this sounds interesting to you, speak to one of our experts! We will show you which one of our 3D printers is best suited for you and your applications. Or send us a CAD file of a sample part, and we will calculate costs and printing time for you.

See How CNC and 3D Printing Work Together at Nikola Motor

Speaker: Riley Gillman

Riley Gillman, Technical Operations Manager at Nikola Motor Corporation, shows:

  • The Advantages and disadvantages of CNC and 3D Printing
  • Integrating 3D printing into your machine shop
  • Selecting the right manufacturing process for part
  • Cost and time savings for real custom examples
  • Understanding ROI

About the author:

Michael Eggerdinger <a style="color: #0077b5" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Michael Eggerdinger

Business Manager Materials

Michael is a toolmaker, a mechanical engineer, and a patent engineer. His years of working in manufacturing and as a project manager in various industries provide him with a profound knowledge of the main challenges in modern production processes. In 2017, he bought his first 3D printer to be used at home, and he has been hooked ever since!

Local Manufacturing Accelerates with BigRep PRO

The Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is a centralized technology hub that provides academic research and commercial manufacturing services to a vast partner community. Their strategic location in western Massachusetts provides convenient access to companies located in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey. Affectionately referred to as the BIC, Berkshire Innovation Center is a world-class R&D facility that offers advanced technologies for local manufacturing. Founded in 2016, the BIC has amassed an eclectic collection of simulation softwares, video production capabilities and additive manufacturing technologies that enable the partner community to reinvent what’s possible for their businesses. In 2020, the BIC welcomed the newest addition to its advanced manufacturing capabilities with the BigRep PRO 3D printer. The high demand for larger parts is what justified the initial printer purpose but the ability to optimize materials and functionality is becoming a significant advantage for local manufacturers.


“Our region is so commercially diverse. It’s our responsibility to understand what technologies will bring the most value to our partner network,” says Steven Longpre, Operations Manager at BIC. “When we presented the BigRep PRO as a potential new addition, our partners were thrilled with the idea.”

BIC members include industrial manufacturers, medical device developers, agricultural specialists and defense suppliers. Gaining access to the BigRep PRO large build platform (1m3) provides immediate benefits for short run production applications and full-scale prototyping.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Dive Technologies, an American veteran-owned small business that produces autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) designed to withstand long operations at oceanic depths, constitutes one printing success with BIC.

“Yes, the ability to print large parts was advantageous for this particular project, but having stronger materials and the freedom to design complex structures is what really drove this project forward,” Longpre says. Dive Technologies printed in several materials, eventually settling on ABS plastic due to the strength characteristics that could withstand the underwater environment. Dive Technologies develops AUV’s that serve a variety of functions so building quick prototypes to scale gives them the ability to iterate faster and customize devices that are designed to solve specific problems.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles - Prototype
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles - Prototype
Commercial AUV, the DIVE-LD, in-water
Commercial AUV, the DIVE-LD, in-water

Agricultural Product Development

One of the major challenges for the Berkshire Innovation Center is to educate the region about the value of advanced manufacturing. Many of the local businesses are familiar with injection molding, CNC machining and other fabrication methods, but are somewhat hesitant to adopt new practices. This is common for any new technology adoption, so BIC addresses this by taking on any project, large or small, with the intention to share the inherent benefits of additive manufacturing. DfAM (design for additive manufacturing) is the practice of designing parts and products that take advantage of AM technology. This includes:

  • Embracing design complexity
  • Lightweighting of parts that retain similar or better strength properties
  • Product simplification, no assembly required

One such example was when the BIC 3D printed a large sled used for agricultural purposes. Typically, this product requires large tooling investments or parts must be welded together for it to function properly. The time it takes to produce this sled with traditional means could be weeks or months. 3D printing on the BigRep PRO took approximately 3.5 days.


Defense Applications 

There are a variety of defense contractors located in the Berkshire region. While the BIC is unable to publicly share details about projects being worked on, there are several applications where members have taken advantage of BigRep PRO's extensive material portfolio in defense manufacturing.

  • Nylon PA 6/66  | This lightweight material from BigRep has excellent strength-to-weight ratios and is ideal for assembly line jigs, fixtures and other production applications.
  • High Temperature Carbon Fiber | High Temp CF has a heat deflection temperature of up to 115C and has increased durability for UV applications, perfect for outdoor product testing or under-the-hood applications.
  • PETG | PETG is one of the most commonly used materials for BigRep. It’s quick to print, reliable and incredibly cost effective making it ideal for low volume production purposes.

“With a more industrial system, we can bridge the gap between software, materials and hardware for true production purposes,” says Longpre. “The BigRep PRO is a robust piece of machinery that is scalable, repeatable and reliable. Something all our partners are interested in.”

Longpre and the BIC team anticipate new opportunities that capitalize on the BigRep PRO’s unique advantages.


The Berkshire Innovation Center is poised to accelerate the innovation and growth of existing companies within their region. Strategically focused on small to medium sized manufacturing companies (SME’s) enables BIC to respond quickly and develop creative solutions with advanced manufacturing. Although the knowledge transfer gap continues to be a challenge for Longpre and his team, they share optimism and excitement about the future. “We don’t want cheap and easy,” says Longpre. “We want the hardest challenges and are prepared to be transparent with our capabilities. Our goal is to improve product performance, test new ideas and find innovative ways to solve problems for our local industrial community.”

The BigRep PRO is one of the premiere advanced manufacturing platforms available at the Berkshire Innovation Center. The BIC is equipped with a variety of 3D printing machines and is capable of tackling any sized project. Longpre and his team consider the BIC to be an industry agnostic facility, so they pride themselves on building a diverse network of partners and collaborators. If you’re interested to learn more about the BIC, we invite you to visit them at BIC acquired their BigRep PRO through our partner, Select Additive.


The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Explore the PRO


The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Explore the PRO

Medical 3D Printing Reinvents the Wheelchair – and Orthosis

Medical 3D Printing: Smart Wheelchair

Medical 3D printing applications have dramatically improved accessibility to healthcare devices in recent years.

3D printing has made small, personalized prosthetics infinitely more affordable, accessible, and effective with on-demand personalized manufacturing. But larger medical devices - like wheelchairs and orthosis - have been limited by the small build volumes widely available.

Today, as large-format 3D printing has become increasingly accessible and reliable, the medical industry is making up for lost time. This past year has seen some incredible innovation in medical 3d printing made possible by large-format additive manufacturing with BigRep technology.

Two of BigRep's partners, Phoenix Instinct and 3Dit Medical, have proven especially noteworthy, having created inspiring innovations and earned the support they need to fully realize their life-changing designs.

Medical 3D Printing allows for a smart Wheelchair

Medial 3D Printing: Self Balancing WheelchairThe wheelchair has remained largely unchanged since the 1980s, said Andrew Slorance, CEO of Phoenix Instinct and a wheelchair user himself. “Wheelchair companies have been unable to stop thinking mechanical,” he says. “All the products around us are evolving – becoming smart. It doesn’t make any sense.”

With a vision to reinvent wheelchairs with smart technology, Slorance and Phoenix Instinct entered the Toyota Mobility Ultimate Challenge: a fund supporting the development of innovative mobility solutions worldwide. In the 18-month competition timeline, the company developed the Phoenix i: a revolutionary wheelchair with a smart center of gravity.

The Phoenix i is an ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber wheelchair with a unique smart weight distribution technology. The chair continually adjusts its center of gravity with user movements, making it easier to control in varied movement, terrain, and contexts while decreasing risks like backward falls. Other smart features like lightweight power assist and automatic breaking make inclines easier to traverse and eliminate most need for physical hand breaking.

The company’s BigRep large-format 3D printer made developing the chair in Toyota’s timeline possible, said Slorance. They reiterated constantly, printing full-scale frames to test on site – an accomplishment that simply wouldn’t be possible with traditional workflows. “My last carbon-fiber chair took about 4 years to develop,” he said. “We’re printing full sized wheelchair frames. It’s transformed the ability to develop a product.”

Now that the company has finished initial prototyping, they’re continuing to use their BigRep by 3D printing carbon fiber moulds used in manufacturing the chairs. There’s another 18 months of development to go, says Slorance, but with the million-dollar development fund the company won from the Toyota Mobility Ultimate Challenge and modern industrial resources like their BigRep industrial 3D printer, the future is bright for the Phoenix i.

3D Printing Orthosis: Personalised Scoliosis Braces

Medial 3D Printing - 3D Printing Prosthetics: Scoliosis BraceScoliosis affects approximately 3% of the world population, which means there are about 1 million scoliosis patients in Saudi Arabia, according to Dr. Ahmad Basalah, Vice President of 3Dit Corp.

Halting spinal degradation in scoliosis patients requires individually personalized body braces that are tremendously expensive and difficult to produce. But now 3Dit Medical – 3Dit Corp.’s medical arm – say they’ve found a new solution to not only build braces that halt spinal degradation but also show promising results in spinal correction.

With their BigRep ONE’s cubic-meter build volume, 3Dit Medical has already successfully 3D printed scoliosis body braces that show promising results in spinal correction. The braces are already 50% lighter than their traditional counterparts, cost a fraction, and are created in just three days instead of the previous three weeks. But thanks to the digital nature of additive manufacturing, they also allow for simple adjustments before printing that will apply pressure to precise points and help slowly correct a wearer’s spine.

“The practice of making a conventional scoliosis brace is humiliating,” says Dr. Wesam Alsabban, President of 3Dit Corp., as he described the process of measuring scoliosis patients which, before 3D printers, required them to hang naked from a ceiling while measurements are taken.

With 3Dit Medical’s new additive manufacturing process, patients only require a simple x-ray and 3D scan to gather measurements.

The groundbreaking application won third place in Saudi Arabia’s MIT Enterprise Forum. Excited by the potential, 3Dit Medical says they’ll continue developing the technology and think it will lead to even more valuable products in the future.

How could you change the world with an industrial 3D printer to streamline innovation and production?


The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

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Nikola Motor Invests in a BigRep PRO to Help Lead the Future of Sustainable Heavy-Duty Trucking

Nikola Corporation, a technology disruptor and integrator working to develop innovative energy and transportation solutions, has invested in the BigRep PRO, a large-format FFF additive manufacturing system, to streamline the design and manufacturing processes of their zero-emission battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, electric vehicle drivetrains, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and hydrogen station infrastructure.

BigRep, the global leader in large-format additive manufacturing (AM) technology and solutions (FFF segment) is renowned for developing next-generation, German-engineered AM systems like the BigRep PRO. Specializing in industrial solutions for innovative manufacturers like Nikola and advanced AM applications, BigRep and Nikola are an ideal match based on their reputation for delivering innovative technologies.

The BigRep PRO is changing how industry leaders like Nikola consider additive manufacturing.  Integrating AM into design and manufacturing processes opens the door for process improvements, product design optimization and modern operation efficiencies. As with Nikola, who acquired their PRO through California-based reseller Saratech, AM is now able to play a key role in developing the future of freight transport, supported by BigRep’s unique technology and portfolio of high-quality engineering-grade materials – developed through BigRep’s close relationship with BASF.

“At Nikola Corporation, our vision is to become a global leader in zero-emissions transportation – and innovation plays a significant role in making that happen. We selected the BigRep PRO for its large-format build volume, third-party filament compatibility, and state-of-the-art Bosch-Rexroth CNC control systems,” said Technical Operations Manager of Nikola Corporation, Riley Gillman. “The first prints that we ran lasted 17 days. Since then, we have been pretty much running the PRO non-stop to help us print parts and components using its large capacity of printing, high resolution and accuracy throughout the entire process.”

Nikola Motors BigRep PRO Tre Print Left Bumper
Nikola Tre close-up on left bumper

Nikola relies on the BigRep PRO to 3D print assembly, weld, and Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) inspection fixtures, which all require a high level of precision. In addition, the PRO is producing test components for fit checks on the company’s vehicles, and manufacturing some end-use parts.

“We are excited to be working with Nikola Corporation by providing both BigRep industrial 3D printing systems and our expertise in innovative applications,” says Frank Marangell, BigRep CBO and President of BigRep America. “The variety of applications Nikola  is printing illustrates the PRO’s flexibility and high-performance potential in demanding industries like automotive. Nikola has joined a roster of other automotive industry leaders who benefit from our flagship system’s unprecedented speed, precision and reliability that make it the perfect choice for cutting-edge AM applications.”

The BigRep PRO is specially designed for 3D printing both large-format and low-yield production parts required in high-performance applications across the automotive, aerospace and other industries. The BigRep PRO features a build envelope of almost one full cubic meter and is equipped with a state-of-the-art Bosch Rexroth CNC motion control system delivering IoT connectivity to fully integrate with Industry 4.0. To create the perfect balance of speed and resolution, BigRep offers two varieties of extruder for the PRO, the Advanced Capability Extruder (ACE) and the BigRep MXT®, its proprietary Metering Extruder Technology. A large, airtight filament chamber allows for continuous printing with engineering-grade filaments like PA6/66, ABS, ASA, fiber-filled and more. The PRO operates using BigRep’s BLADE slicer software, which provides accurate printing time and material use calculations for optimized productivity, as well as simple tools for easy batch and mirror printing.

A truly industrial 3D printing experience

A large-format 3D printer designed for high productivity in industrial manufacturing environments. It's an additive manufacturing system with the speed and reliability to supercharge your production with high-quality industrial parts.

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3D Printed Car Parts for Solar-Electric Vehicles

3D Printed Solar Powered Car Prototype

3D printed car parts are helping engineers to rapidly prototype solar-powered cars, accelerating research into fossil fuel alternatives for consumer vehicles.

The explosively growing trend of electric vehicles (EVs) is clearing the way for new methods of fuel-creation – away from finite, expensive, and environmentally hazardous resources. Since electricity is still largely produced by fossil fuels and other major pollutants, energy production is bottlenecking the reduced carbon footprint of EVs.

Fortunately, ongoing research into cars with integrated solar power cells promises new horizons of environmental responsibility, energy independence and unfettered access to power and mobility across the world.

3D Printed Car Parts - Solar Car
A concept rendering of Futuro Solare's Archimede solar car as a consumer vehicle.

Spurred by global events like Australia’s international solar-car race, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, Researchers are already working towards vehicles with integrated solar panels.

BigRep and other corporate sponsors provide researchers with the means to construct and test vehicles with local solar power that participate in these races. The vehicles and their construction process, while sponsored and constructed for these publicized events, are used to advance research into solar vehicles and how we might work towards developing the technology for everyday consumers.

For some groups, BigRep’s large-format 3D printers have played a major role in advancing research. Lack of access to expensive traditional manufacturing technologies is a large barrier for the small teams working on solar vehicles. Fortunately, additive manufacturing easily fills in for the production of functional fixtures, prototypes and more 3D printed car parts.

3D Printed Car Parts: Heat-Resistant Battery Fixtures for Futuro Solare

At Futuro Solare, an Italian-Sicilian team of volunteer engineers and solar-vehicle enthusiasts, they’re dedicated to the mission of eliminating fossil fuels from everyday life. Like many other institutions, developing solar-powered vehicles is how they work towards their goal.

3D Printed Car Parts: Solar Race Car
Archimede 1 is the solar racecar designed by the team of Futuro Solare.

When the group needed several end-use fixtures for their solar-car’s battery block they were stuck in a complicated acquisition dilemma. Since their racecar is entirely custom there isn’t a readily available solution on the market. Worse yet, since the prototype vehicle is always changing there’s a good chance the team will soon need another iteration of the fixture: taking expensive custom milled fixtures off the table entirely. The team needed a custom solution that was affordable, lightweight and, most importantly, able to resist any heat the battery block or other components might give off.

Futuro Solare approached NOWLAB, BigRep’s consultancy for engineered solutions, to 3D print suitable fixtures with a heat-resistant material that would meet their needs. BigRep’s HI-TEMP filament – an affordable bio-polymer able to withstand heat up to 115 ˚C – was the perfect solution. The part was printed and installed in their current solar-car and has since been quickly and easily updated to fit with their ever-evolving design.

3D Printed Car Parts: Battery Frame
Battery holder for Archimede von Futuro Solare are 3D printed.

Wind Tunnel Testing with Team Sonnenwagen

Team Sonnenwagen, a solar race team out of Germany’s Aachen University, was preparing for their second year participating in the World Solar Challenge. Having learned from their previous experience in 2017, they knew it was important to carefully check the aerodynamics of their solar-racecar before the race began. Unfortunately, the university’s wind tunnel was too small to test their full-sized vehicle. Team Sonnenwagen turned to BigRep for an additive manufacturing solution.

It was important for Team Sonnenwagen to understand how their vehicle will behave faced with the variety of forces present in a race. After all, they would be putting one of their own team in the driver’s seat to race at 140 km/h through the Australian outback. BigRep sponsored Team Sonnenwagen and, taking advantage of 3D PARTLAB, our 3D printing service bureau.

With our industrial 3D printers’ massive one-cubic-meter build volume, we created a perfect 1:2.5 scale model of the vehicle. Reasonably scaled down, the team could fit their design in Aachen University’s wind tunnel and undergo the tests to prepare them for their race. Because of the model they were able to validate the vehicle’s downforce lift, confirm its sail, and view a variety of other aerodynamic and force tests that helped the team compete and stay safe.

3D Printed Prototype for Wind Tunnel Tests
Das Team Sonnenwagen verwendet Rauch an seinem skalierten Solar-Rennwagen, um die Aerodynamik zu überprüfen

3D Printed Car Parts Bring Solar-Powered Cars Closer to Reality

Additive manufacturing plays an ever-increasing role in the development of bleeding-edge technology. Solar-powered vehicles are just one example of a technology that benefits from short rapid prototyping cycles, affordable scaled models, and on-demand engineering-quality solutions for spare parts and fixtures.

Because of the opportunities afforded by large-format additive manufacturing, like BigRep’s industrial 3D printers, innovative researchers like Futuro Solare and Team Sonnenwagen have resources never previously accessible at their scale. With them, accelerated research into integrated renewable power has been possible – inching the world closer to reliable solar-powered vehicles for new heights of environmental responsibility and energy independence around the world.

Learn more about Additive Manufacturing


3D printing a large part all at once means less time is spent designing around multiple print jobs or assembling multiple parts, and more time getting those parts to work for you.


Learn how Kingston University, Helmut Schmidt University and more are using BigRep 3D printers for their classrooms and research.

AMAZEA Underwater Scooter, Serially-Produced with BigRep 3D Printers

For the first time ever a consumer water sports mobility device will be 75% additively manufactured (AM) with serial-produced, custom 3D-printed parts: The AMAZEA scooter’s body and front parts are being produced on three BigRep ONE large-format 3D printers using engineering-grade materials by BigRep, the global leader in large-scale 3D printing and additive solutions.

"AMAZEA is an industry-first breakthrough with the potential to redefine maritime vehicle technology and the consumer experience in water sports around the world,” said JAMADE Managing Partner Janko Duch, who founded the company together with Martin Oser and Detlef Klages in July 2018. “We opted for the BigRep ONE due to its cost efficiency, accuracy and quality when compared to the extremely high investment for traditional tools, particularly in the first year’s lower quantity,” the founders explained. German-based JAMADE is specialized in the development and manufacturing of e-powered water sports equipment for the end consumer market.

The large-format BigRep ONE 3D printer was key to a successful product launch, providing the high flexibility and speed AM offers, also making the development process much more time-efficient.

JAMADE started on white paper and progressed through product development. Offering a big 1m3 print volume, the BigRep ONE 3D printer provided unmatched cost efficiency, operational reliability and excellent technical qualities during JAMADE’s prototyping and the end-use parts’ serial production. The material is BigRep’s Pro HT, an easy-to-use filament designed for end-use applications. With a softening resistance of up to 115 °C, it offers a significant increase in temperature resistance (compared to average PLA), and minimal warping and shrinkage, which makes it perfectly suited for marine environments. As a material derived from organic compounds, Pro HT is biodegradable under the correct conditions, CO2 neutral and environmentally friendly.

“This scooter is a BigRep showcase of our digital solutions empowering production by leveraging the full potential of large-format 3D printers with high-performance filaments,” says BigRep Managing Director Martin Back. “It also signifies the rapid progress of 3D printing into the serial production of consumer end products, opening a new dimension for AM in similar niche but high-tech markets as well.”

Find out how industry leaders are using BigRep 3D printers to create affordable and secure investment shipping containers on demand for sensitive aerospace equipment in our case study with Airbus:
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The underwater scooter, which pulls the diver attached to it forward through the water, is an environmentally friendly, emission-free and low-noise method of exploring marine life without disrupting the eco-system. AMAZEA is an agile underwater scooter based on the “catamaran principle” and replicating a dolphin’s special body ergonomics that enable faster movement.

The stylish design offers a robust frame available in various bright colors. Thanks to an electric BI motor drive powered by two engines (3.1 KW each) and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery set up in the scooter’s front, the high-performance scooter offers a maximum speed of 20 km/h (underwater) or 30 km/h (gliding above water) and can be operated up to depths of 18 meters. Thanks to its light weight of just 25 kg (without battery) and a user-friendly control panel, handling is very easy.

3D printing offers real customization. Changes in size or shapes, and customer feedback or requests are able to go straight into the product. Large-format printing also ensures the scooter’s water-resistance: If the front or body were assembled using several smaller parts, openings would be a potential risk for leaks.

Large-format 3D printing enabled the quick turnaround and quality needed for this first of its kind water scooter.

Paravan’s Life-Changing Vehicle Customization with Large-Format AM

For some companies, a shift toward Industry 4.0 means scaling up to mass production of the same goods or near-identical lines of products. For other firms, industrial advancements present potential for greater customization and manufacturing bespoke products.

One such company is Paravan GmbH – a German company developing and supplying independent and autonomous vehicle drive systems. Paravan has been a leading international provider of vehicle customization for people with disabilities or special needs since 2005 as part of a wider mobility concept based around modifying vehicles, lifts, cartridge lifts and ramp systems.

Their solutions are specifically tailored to individual needs, incorporating features like wheelchair access, loading systems, rotating seating, and many more accessibility assets for safety and comfort. Paravan’s passion lies in providing personalized vehicle components that enable one of the most precious things there is: mobile freedom.

Find out more about how BigRep is changing vehicle
customization in our case study with Paravan GmbH

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3D Printing for Accessibility

“With the BigRep ONE, we can quickly and inexpensively print complex components that are either impossible or very difficult to produce by machine,” said Mario Kütt, Head of Mechanical Construction at Paravan. “Now we print a component that we had previously milled, thereby saving around 75% of the costs.”

Paravan uses a BigRep ONE 3D printer to produce end-use parts for its road-approved, safety-related industrial applications, including its first prototype for a revolutionary new steering mechanism. Unlike most cars, this Paravan steering wheel is electronic instead of directly connected to the steering column.

“Together with a 3D scanner our construction engineers work with [the BigRep 3D printer] daily,” said Paravan’s Alexander Nerz. “Of course, it’s great to be able to quickly and efficiently build designs overnight. To be able to install the piece into the customer’s vehicle the very next day. It’s a really great tool.”

The nature of Paravan’s customized vehicle business means the ability to do rapid large-format prototyping is vital. With just a clean CAD file, Paravan’s engineers can design functional parts specific to a user’s needs and often produce a printed part within one day. Custom-fitting vehicles becomes a cost-efficient, fast process. “We have more pieces that are new than those that we have had for a long time,” says Mr. Kütt, who produces at least two prototypes per week using the BigRep ONE.

For customers who have difficulty grasping the controls with their hands, for example, Paravan has been developing custom grips that enable drivers to keep a steadier hold on the gear stick or steering mechanism. They take a mold of the individual’s hand grip and create a custom grip with flexible, material for simplified handling. Using a 3D scanner, they convert a 3D scan of the final model into a CAD file. After refining the design, they are ready to print the prototype on the BigRep ONE.

The Right Materials for Innovation

As the printed parts are often end-use, placed directly into Paravan’s custom vehicles, post-processing their prints is an important part of Paravan’s process. “Currently we are only using PRO HT filament for production,” said Mr. Kütt. “Mainly for its high temperature resistance, which is necessary for the vehicles, especially in summer.”

Rather than painting the pieces smooth, which Paravan finds can be time consuming, they prefer to lightly sand the printed parts and prime them, creating the finish.

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As Paravan continues to innovate in the automotive industry, BigRep’s 3D printing technology will support the company to explore the potential of autonomous driving.

For businesses on the cutting edge of automotive technologies, being able to swiftly design and print prototypes allows them to remain frontrunners in their fields and provide, particularly in Paravan’s case, life-changing products and services to customers.

About BigRep
BigRep develops the world’s largest serial production 3D printers, creating the industry benchmark for large-scale printing with the aim to reshape manufacturing. Its award-winning, German-engineered machines are establishing new standards in speed, reliability and efficiency. BigRep’s printers are the preferred choice of engineers, designers and manufacturers at leading companies in the industrial, automotive and aerospace sectors. Through collaborations with its strategic partners – including Bosch Rexroth, Etihad Airways and Deutsche Bahn – and key investors – including BASF, Koehler, Klöckner and Körber – BigRep continues to develop complete solutions for integrated additive manufacturing systems, as well as a wide range of printing materials on an open-choice source. Founded in 2014, BigRep is headquartered in Berlin with offices in Boston and Singapore. Leading the way in one of the world’s key technologies, our multinational engineering teams are highly trained, interdisciplinary and customer-focused.

For additional information, please contact:
To arrange an interview with BigRep’s executive management or NOWLAB team, and for more information on BigRep and its solutions, please contact:
Jürgen Scheunemann
PR & Communications BigRep GmbH
T: +49 30 9487 1430
E: [email protected]


Frankfurt am Main, 07. / 08. / 09. / 10.11.2023
Hall 12.1 - Booth C69
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