3D Printed Chandelier, The Hedron, Outshines Conventional Ceiling Lights

3d-printed-ceiling-light-by-bigrep-and-Ben-Mickus
Ben Mickus, an award-winning designer and practicing architect, designed and 3D printed “Hedron,” a pendant that’s light years ahead of modern chandeliers.

Design inspired by geometry in nature. Dreamy ethereal glow. Timeless gradient aesthetic. These are some images that Ben Mickus’ 3D printed Hedron pendant light conjures to the mind. The chandelier balances intricacy with playfulness, inviting you to step into an elegant space that celebrates futuristic design powered by a conscious fabrication choice.

Ben Mickus founded Mickus Projects, a 15-year-old multi-disciplinary design studio specializing in furniture, lighting, architecture, and design strategy. He honed his design skills working on large-scale cultural projects at the prestigious architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York.

Over the years, Ben has engaged in a variety of research-driven prototype projects, spanning furniture, architecture, and lighting. In his latest endeavor in the interior lighting space with the Hedron, he delved into 3D printing with bioplastics.

C:\Users\n.mathew\OneDrive - BigRep GmbH\Desktop\Ben Mickus' Hedron printed with a BigRep
Photographed by Ryan Gobuty.

The Genesis of Hedron

Inspired by the geometric design of polyhedrons, Ben created the Hedron with a twist that fools the eye. One can look into and through it without actually seeing the light source inside. This geometrical trick makes the Hedron look like it’s glowing from within. Produced with translucent BigRep PLX, the printed walls are thinner at the edges and are angled precisely so the light bounces twice, creating a light-to-dark ambient glow. Almost magically, the light displays no glare and is shadow-free.

"The idea for this fixture started with the shape of a polyhedron, a multi-faceted, three-dimensional object, which has a really interesting form that naturally takes on a curve. Like a turtle shell, or an insect eye, or a soccer ball, all these things are based on polyhedrons where the curve changes between hexagons and pentagons," Ben explained.

close up of the hedron 3d printed chandelier with a bigrep printer designed by ben mickus
Photographed by Ryan Gobuty.

Through parametric modeling, he was able to meticulously iterate and adjust the angles of each surface to achieve the perfect result.

“I modeled the Hedron parametrically so that the angle of all surfaces could be very carefully and precisely controlled so that you can't see the light bulb, no matter which way you look at the fixture.”

3D Printing Illuminates the Path

Ben's prototype was successfully brought to life using BigRep's large-scale 3D printer – the BigRep STUDIO The choice of PLX, a bioplastic known for its bioplastic nature and surface quality, was a deliberate one.

“The superior surface quality achieved by BigRep's PLX was the best part. And it's the only filament that doesn't use petroleum products, which was a really big plus for me.”

Close up of the hedron 3d printed chandelier on a bridge with a bigrep printer designed by Ben Mickus
Photographed by Ryan Gobuty.

The printing process presented its own set of challenges, particularly in achieving a single-part print with striated texture and complex form. The large build volume of the BigRep STUDIO was crucial to produce the 18"W X 12"H intricate design in full-scale, while also allowing experimentation with different materials before the final choice of PLX. Inspired by various post-processing methods, Ben experimented by coating the fixture in a ceramic-based sealant to achieve a matte appearance.

Design Elevated by Functionality

Hedron's design is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also highly utilitarian. It is designed to hang from a concealed inner bracket inside the stem. The fixture can be easily attached and detached without the need for fasteners, glue, or additional hardware. Ben explained, "The entire shade is just lifted up, rotated 60 degrees, and then it slips out from kind of a three-point slot in the top of the fixture." This custom component is an excellent example of how Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) can consolidate components for better products requiring less assembly.

Ben Mickus' Hedron chandelier 3d printed with a BigRep
Photographed by Ryan Gobuty.

A Bright Future Ahead

The Hedron will be showcased at the Light Design Expo in San Francisco on June 20th, which is sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). The event will be a platform for Ben to get a pulse of the industry, which he hopes will help in moving the Hedron towards mass production.

He is optimistic about the fixture's potential and looks forward to its reception. Keep an eye out for his futuristic Hedron at the Light Design Expo and beyond.

Ben Mickus' Hedron chandelier printed with a BigRep outdoors.
Photographed by Ryan Gobuty.

Want to Learn More about 3D Printing Bespoke Furniture?

Download the eBook, RH-Engineering & manoFigura 3D Print Luxury Furniture.

Find out how RH-Engineering and manoFigura design and create custom furnishings. Deep dive into their breakthrough product, the Magna Patero Ortus – a 3D-printed end-use sink.

Read this additive manufacturing case study to learn:

  • How businesses are manufacturing custom products with 3D printing
  • Why additive manufacturing is the perfect solution for custom and low-volume production
  • How large-format 3D printers unlock creativity and opportunity
  • Unique post-processing systems for end-use products

HOW RH-ENGINEERING & MANOFIGURA 3D PRINT LUXURY FURNITURE

About the author:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

3D Printing in Education: The BigRep STUDIO Takes Learning Out of the Box

The BigRep STUDIO for Universities

Integrate 3D printing in education with the BigRep STUDIO, a large-scale machine that sets students and researchers up for success with its state-of-the-art technology trusted by industry leaders.

3D printing is rooted in hands-on learning, a pedagogical tool for ambitious students and researchers to take them from concepts to physical models, preparing them for real-world success. The technology is widely used to ensure promising research outcomes through high-accuracy parts in a wide range of materials for studies ranging from engineering to art and design. While most entry-level 3D printers in the market comfortably fit on a desk, the unrestricted freedom to explore new ideas manyfold as the build volume gets BIGger.

Built with a generous build volume of 1000 x 500 x 500 mm, the BigRep STUDIO is 10 times that of a standard desktop 3D printer. It is a massive, reliable, and education-ready 3D printer built to graduate students from desktop learning to a professional industrial-grade machine. Many leading universities around the world house the STUDIO and discover applications across almost all academic and research disciplines.

Join the Ranks of Top Universities by Integrating Large-Scale 3D Printing into Your Curriculum

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WHY THE STUDIO IS THE BEST-IN-CLASS
EDUCATIONAL TOOL

A Generous Build Volume

A 1000 x 500 x 500 mm build chamber for students and researchers to explore and test their ideas in full-scale.

BigRep STUDIO - Large build volume
Studio_G2_Enclosed_3D_Printers_Bigrep

A Safe, Fully Enclosed Build Chamber

The temperature-controlled build envelope for consistent prints and safe access to the print bed.

Open Material Platform

Freedom to print with compatible 3rd party materials including carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics enabling the widest variety of applications in any academic field.

BigRep Filaments
BigRep STUDIO Dual Extruder

Uninterrupted Productivity

The STUDIO allows for around-the-clock non-stop printing so students can schedule print projects back-to-back and experiment efficiently even during the busiest periods.

Training and eLearning Platform

Students have complete access to online courses on the BigRep ACADEMY and in-person training from fundamentals to expert-level in 3D printing.

BigRep Academy eLearning Platform
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Space Conscious Machine Design

Built with a sleek body, the STUDIO is at home in any workspace. The machine runs on a convenient standard electrical outlet and has relatively low power consumption.

Intuitive 3D Print Software

Easy-to-use cutting-edge software suite gives students complete control over the print process, from design to print monitoring: BLADE, FLOW, and CONNECT.

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Large-Format 3D Printing Applications Across Different Academic Fields

The natural intersection between the STUDIO and education lies in the shared focus on large-scale experimentation, critical thinking, and creativity. The 3D printer imparts practical learning by being a testbed for experimentation, prototypes, physical models, and real-world applications.

The most common educational fields that benefit from the STUDIO’s large-scale capabilities are:

1. Engineering

The significant advantage of the STUDIO for engineering and advanced manufacturing students is its ability to effortlessly print large parts with complex geometries. Designs that would be challenging or even impossible to build with traditional manufacturing methods are second nature for the 3D printer.

Engineering students can quickly test, iterate, and refine their ideas and experiment with different filaments thanks to the open material system. They can gain insight into how material properties influence design and how manufacturing processes impact the final product. This experiential learning helps students develop an intuitive understanding of materials science and manufacturing principles, equipping them with valuable skills for their future careers.

Here are some of the use cases of Universities employing BigRep 3D printing systems in their research labs.

Helmut Schmidt University's Eleven-O-Six Racing Team 3D printed the steering wheel, entire bodywork, and a nose cone prototype.
Helmut Schmidt University's Eleven-O-Six Racing Team 3D printed the steering wheel, entire bodywork, and a nose cone prototype.
  • High-performance car production process
    Eleven-O-Six Racing Team, a motorsport team at Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, Germany uses a BigRep 3D printer to see what it could bring to their high-performance car production process.

    Prof. Dr.-Ing Jens Wulfsberg, the Chair of Production Engineering (LaFT) and leader of the project underlines a key advantage of their BigRep 3D printer:

"Using a BigRep 3D printer is a fast solution to produce a fast car because we have short cycles for optimizing the parts. In every iteration cycle, the car is better, and faster. This is one of the direct consequences of using the machine."

  • Rapid prototypes
    Dr. Mario Oertel and his team at the advanced hydraulics engineering lab at Helmut Schmidt University are transforming weir designs with BigRep 3D printing systems.
  • End-use parts
    Aalborg University Engineers 3D printed a functional bicycle frame in one go.
At Aalborg university, a fully functional bicycle frame was 3D printed, thanks to the BigRep 3D printer's large build volume.
At Aalborg university, a fully functional bicycle frame was 3D printed, thanks to the BigRep 3D printer's large build volume.
  • Aerospace engineering
    Aix-Marseille Université, one of the largest universities in France, developed a unique accredited degree program in aerospace engineering with BigRep 3D printing systems.
Mixed Reality Aerospace Program
Using their BigRep 3D printer, Aix-Marseille’s technical aeronautical training school, POLYAERO introduced 3D printed mockup parts for an ideal training solution.

2. Sciences

Thanks to the large-build volume, the STUDIO can create anatomically accurate representations for biology and medicine students ensuring a realistic and immersive learning experience. The 3D printer can play a crucial role in medical device development, allowing researchers to prototype and test cutting-edge healthcare solutions.

The other area that additive manufacturing contributes significantly is in the visualization of concepts. Beyond healthcare and biology, they support environmental studies and geoscience research by creating models for studying ecosystems, geological formations, and natural phenomena.

The STUDIO can easily create complex components and prototypes for advanced physics research projects tailored to specific objectives. Students can experience experimental design, data collection, and analysis. Be it fabricating models that are tested by being subjected to natural forces, or designing innovative sensors, students can leverage the capabilities of FFF 3D printing to push the boundaries of scientific exploration and discovery.

The 3D-printed rotor blades at TU Berlin designed by  Jörg Alber, and Laurin Assfalg with a BigRep machine.
The 3D-printed rotor blades at TU Berlin designed by Jörg Alber, and Laurin Assfalg with a BigRep machine.

TU Berlin’s Ph.D. student, Jörg Alber, and Master’s student, Laurin Assfalg, 3D printed a wind turbine rotor blade to experiment, evaluate, and improve its performance. By creating and optimizing rotor blades on a smaller scale with BigRep’s 3D printer, they could explore different infills, shapes, and materials and test them against simulated real-world conditions.

Laurin Assfalg:

"3d printing was a compelling option to produce the rotor blades as it can create complex forms and enhance performance. The idea was to come up with the science that can somehow be used for big rotor blades too."

3. Art

In art and design education, the STUDIO empowers aspiring artists with the freedom and practical skills needed to breathe life into their creative visions. Students can explore new techniques and experiment with materials, overcoming the limitations of traditional art mediums. Some of the areas where the 3D printers give the students a leg-up are with props and special effects, fine art creation, sculptures, installations, and art preservation.

The machine’s high level of precision helps students create intricate artwork, allowing them to delve into digital fabrication techniques and integrate technology into mixed-media art projects. Welly Fletcher, an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico, built a bridge to prehistoric cave art with a massive 3D printed mixed-media lion-like figure with a BigRep printer.

Welly Fletcher’s sculpture ‘Trans Time’, an abstract depiction of a lion-like animal printed using a large-format BigRep 3D printer.
Welly Fletcher’s sculpture ‘Trans Time’, an abstract depiction of a lion-like animal printed using a large-format BigRep 3D printer.

4. Architecture and Construction

Studying architecture and construction at a university with access to a large-scale FFF 3D printer offers students the opportunity to prototype their designs at scale. This helps with a detailed analysis of spatial relationships, structural integrity, and design aesthetics of the building. The physical model can be quickly iterated to find the perfect solution to architectural challenges.

From complex architectural features to intricate building elements, integrating a STUDIO in the process fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. Architecture and construction students can collaborate on projects that combine architectural principles with engineering expertise.

The elaborate, contemporary “Ancora Villa” printed on a BigRep printer, is a complex architectural design with a fragile overall structure and many highly intricate details.

BigRep 3D Printed an elaborate architectural model, Villa Ancora, in 1:50 scale in just 5 days.
BigRep 3D Printed an elaborate architectural model, Villa Ancora, in 1:50 scale in just 5 days.

5. Archaeology and Paleontology

FFF 3D printing can turn back time by recreating lifeforms that have gone extinct and artifacts that have been damaged or lost forever. The physical models are profoundly engaging, offering an unparalleled experience by allowing students to learn about the past by holding it in their hands. Creating singular pieces of small to large scale parts comes easy for the STUDIO and students have a wide variety of materials to choose from. Post-processing techniques like painting and wrapping the part ensure a more realistic representation.

CDM STUDIOS in Australia 3D was commissioned to create sculptures and models of dinosaurs and extinct sharks on short notice. With a BigRep 3D printer, they were able to accurately recreate 110 models in just 9 months.

A shark model 3D printed on a BigRep 3D printer by CDM:Studio.
A shark model 3D printed on a BigRep 3D printer by CDM:Studio.

6. Product Design

The iterative nature of 3D printing allows students to test and refine their ideas, gaining valuable insights into form, function, and manufacturability. By experiencing the entire design cycle—from concept development to prototyping—students develop critical problem-solving skills and design thinking methodologies.

The STUDIO enables the intersection of design, engineering, and materials science by collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds to tackle complex design challenges. Through this collaborative approach, students gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted nature of product design and develop the ability to integrate technical, aesthetic, and user-centered considerations into their designs.

coffee-table-min

Next-Gen AM Technology for Next-Gen Graduates

The STUDIO provides a solution for educational institutions that’s equal parts reliable and open for experimentation, engineered with state-of-the-art technology trusted by industry leaders. The 3D printer ensures successful research outcomes by printing high-accuracy parts with an open material platform rooted in a user-friendly, professional-grade full-solution AM eco-system.

In today's competitive job market, hands-on experience with professional 3D printers provides students with a valuable edge, offering a tangible representation of their ideas and enhancing the learning process. Prepare students for the real world and set them up for successful careers in any field, all within an accessible price range and unlimited experimental opportunities.

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Want to learn more about how Universities are upgrading education with 3D printing?

Register to watch the on-demand webinar, Inspire Students and Innovate Faster.

In this webinar, we discuss with some of the top universities, the projects and research they’ve conducted using large-scale 3D printing. 

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR TO LEARN HOW 

  • 3D printers support scientists and students conducting research in universities 
  • AM is crucial in fast-paced experimentation and rapid iteration 
  • To unleash creativity through AM technologies 
  • 3D printers are an ideal tool in educational institutions to test new ideas. 

INSPIRE STUDENTS & INNOVATE FASTER: INTEGRATING LARGE-FORMAT 3D PRINTING IN UNIVERSITIES.

GRADUATE FROM DESKTOP. GET INDUSTRIAL.

The BigRep STUDIO G2 gets 3D printing off your desk and takes it to the next level. Operating with the same ease as a desktop 3D printer and with 10 times the build volume, the STUDIO G2 provides large-scale industrial manufacturing capabilities in a compact “fits everywhere” build.

Explore the STUDIO

GRADUATE FROM DESKTOP. GET INDUSTRIAL.

The BigRep STUDIO G2 gets 3D printing off your desk and takes it to the next level. Operating with the same ease as a desktop 3D printer and with 10 times the build volume, the STUDIO G2 provides large-scale industrial manufacturing capabilities in a compact “fits everywhere” build.

Explore the STUDIO

About the author:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

Xuberance Breaks the Mold with 3D Printed Furniture and Lifestyle Products

Xuberance 3D printed furniture - hero image
Hailing from Beijing, China, Xuberance is a product design firm that leverages 3D printing technology to create unique furniture pieces and accessories. By embracing BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers, Xuberance is writing a new design narrative that combines sustainability and unparalleled design freedom.

From steam-bending woodworking techniques in the 19th Century to injection molded plastics in the 20th Century, advances in production technologies have continually reframed the creative possibilities. Product designers are looking to innovate and push the boundaries of their craft with cutting-edge technologies that allow them to support their vision.

In the 21st Century, design firms such as Xuberance are proving that there is scope for an entirely new conversation - one that empowers the unbound imagination of the product designer thanks to 3D printing technology.

Xuberance is making complex, intricate, and lightweight structures made possible by 3D printing objects from digital designs. The design ranges from furniture pieces to wearable fashion accessories and has become a symbol of a new age of digital expression.

The Form is More Than Function

With products such as the 3D printed Cloud Lamp, a luminaire that garnered the team the prestigious SaloneSatellite Award at the Milan Design Week in 2015, Xuberance has developed a distinctive design language; a language inextricably bound to the digital process of 3D printing.

The resulting intricate, organic forms of its 3D printed products are so unique, that they are virtually impossible to reproduce with conventional production methods such as molds.

Xuberance 3D printed furniture - BigRep 3d printed chair

“3D printing forms the backbone of our entire design and production process,” comments Leira Wang, Managing Director of Xuberance.

“Our designers can fully translate their digital designs into physical products using 3D printers such as BigRep’s. It offers unparalleled design freedom while pushing the boundaries of what’s technically possible.”

Xuberance_13

Large Scale Printing Creates Unique Design Possibilities

Although 3D printing was traditionally utilized by manufacturers to produce specific parts, Xuberance was one of the pioneers to embrace the medium as its primary tool to produce entire products from the ground up.

Having the ability to print larger single products such as chairs and stools with 3D printers such as BigRep’s ONE and STUDIO has enabled Xuberance to focus on building its product design niche.

The resulting products are not only strong, durable, and lightweight, but also unique in their form.

“Large-scale printing has had a transformative effect upon our overall ability to create distinctive designs,” continues Wang. “The BigRep large scale printers are instrumental in this, and unlock new possibilities by reducing time and costs.”

Xuberance_12

As evident with Xuberance products such as the Madame Butterfly chair - a single-piece 3D printed chair consisting of ethereal, organic, and intricately printed patterns, BigRep’s 3D printers allow the production of larger objects while retaining the intricate design.

“BigRep's dual extrusion printing offers a crushing advantage with its super accurate printing quality. We’re now able to faithfully translate our designer’s compositions into finished Xuberance products without losing any of the intricacies of the original design.”

says Wang.

Xuberance_11

Responding to Customer Demand

Unlike traditional manufacturing, where modifications require mold changes or adjustments to tooling, Xuberance has built its business around the flexibility of 3D printing, which allows for quick iterations to final product designs.

Not only has this allowed the team to eliminate the time and cost associated with physical adjustments in texture, structure, or color gradients can also be quickly executed depending on the customer’s requirements.

Xuberance_2

3D Printing in a Circular Economy

Product design and furniture industries have been plagued by non-sustainable practices, especially with nonbiodegradable plastics and other materials. But Xuberance is proving that 3D printed products have earned their place within the circular economy with their choice of materials.

With BigRep’s open material system, Xuberance can select the appropriate materials according to the requirements of each design, and set up printing parameters for each geometric model.

Xuberance_7

In addition to citing BigRep’s PRO HT and ASA filaments as exceptional with regards to their material composition and heat resistance qualities, Wang also highlighted the importance of their biodegradability in underlining the ethos of the company.

A Future Filled with 3D-Printed Possibilities

By embracing 3D printing technology, Xuberance has proven that it’s possible to create stunning, customized products whilst paving the way for a more sustainable future in design. Key to achieving this are the BigRep large format printers, which Wang believes are fundamental to achieving the company’s vision.

Xuberance_6

"There is an ancient Chinese saying," concludes Wang, "' When brothers are united in purpose, their strength can cut through metal.' We believe in the future of large-scale printing, and we will work together with BigRep to achieve this greater development."

As Xuberance continues to explore the unprecedented creative possibilities of 3D printing, its designers are forging a radical new language formed around the desire to celebrate form and organic beauty.

This approach echoes a historical truth: form isn't dictated by function, but rather, by the tools and technology available to the designer at any given time. With the tools of 3D printing at its disposal, Xuberance is at the very cusp of redefining the possibilities of product design.

Want to Learn More about 3D Printing Bespoke Furniture?

Download the eBook, RH-Engineering & manoFigura 3D Print Luxury Furniture.

Find out how RH-Engineering and manoFigura design and create custom furnishings. Deep dive into their breakthrough product, the Magna Patero Ortus – a 3D-printed end-use sink.

Read this additive manufacturing case study to learn:

  • How businesses are manufacturing custom products with 3D printing
  • Why additive manufacturing is the perfect solution for custom and low-volume production
  • How large-format 3D printers unlock creativity and opportunity
  • Unique post-processing systems for end-use products

HOW RH-ENGINEERING & MANOFIGURA 3D PRINT LUXURY FURNITURE

About the author:

Patrick McCumiskey <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://de.linkedin.com/in/patrick-mccumiskey-b41a2699" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Patrick McCumiskey

Author

Patrick has over a decade’s worth of experience writing about design and technology. After first encountering 3D printing on a project while studying a Masters Degree in design, he’s taken a keen interest in the development of 3D printing and its impact on the world of design and tech.

3D Printing Accelerates Innovation in China’s Commercial Vehicle Industry

Large 3D Printing Transforms Commercial Vehicle Industry

China's commercial vehicle market accounts for over 40% of total global sales. Playing a key role in China’s success is the industry’s willingness to adopt new disruptive technologies like industrial 3D printing to pave the way for a new generation of production in custom commercial vehicle manufacturers such as CNHTC.

At the helm of this transformation is Dr. Dong, a visionary engineer, who established one of China’s largest 3D printing centers within CNHTC, the third-largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country.

With Chinese domestic demand for commercial vehicles projected to increase 10% year on year by 2028, Dr. Dong and his team could no longer exclusively rely on traditional manufacturing methods to meet the constantly evolving industry’s requirements.

Thanks to industrial 3D printing, the company has been able to advance prototyping and production processes for its heavy-duty trucks, haulage, and transport vehicles.

Embracing the Open 3D Printing System

Dr. Dong's approach to 3D printing is centered around being able to explore new applications and materials that are fundamental while innovating with the technology. While some of the 3D printer providers only sell closed material and software systems which limit application freedom, industrial 3D printers, like BigRep’s, are open for innovation. Being able to use any 3D print filament and software enabled CNHTC’s designers and engineers to leverage any technically compatible material.

It also helped CNHTC save costs as typically when companies are locked to the 3D printer provider’s materials, they’d have to forgo applications, outsource the print, or if the part warrants the investment, buy a new 3D printer that supports the material. CNHTC also had a better return on investment as they discovered the machine could be used for new applications with other materials.

CNHTC -Dr. Dong with a 3D print

Dr. Dong explains,

Having an open-source 3D printer like the BigRep PRO is vital for our workflow. Open-source materials not only reduce production costs, they allow us to explore diverse material possibilities to achieve any number of desired outcomes

Cost and Time Savings with Rapid Prototyping

CNHTC's traditional reliance on CNC machining and milling for prototyping translated to lengthy testing and iteration phases, often taking weeks. As a result, this slow process hurt the company’s ability to innovate within its design team.

Since we’ve adopted 3D printing into our day-to-day work processes, we’ve witnessed a remarkable 50% reduction in both time and cost compared to traditional manufacturing methods for our projects to date.”

says Dr. Dong.

CNHTC 3D printed parts with the BigRep PRO

With the introduction of 3D printing, CNHTC’s workflow has undergone a total transformation. Now it takes just a few days, not weeks, for Dr. Dong and his team to turn digital designs into functional parts. "3D printing has enabled our designers and engineers to perform iterative optimizations with much faster turnaround times." Say Dr. Dong "While bypassing the mold-making stage entirely, we can directly 3D print structures that could not be created by the traditional processes.”

This kind of efficiency has allowed for the introduction of faster iteration and feedback cycles, ultimately allowing the design team to create products more in line with current market demands.

Large-Scale 3D Printing for Heavy-Duty Trucks

While previous generations and some of the current 3D printers have a smaller build limiting the size of the parts, Dr. Dong and his team have embraced industrial 3D printing with the BigRep PRO to produce large singular parts suitably sized for custom commercial trucks.

Following the same path as European commercial vehicle specialists like Zoeller Kipper, large 3D-printed parts such as customized panels and covers are being integrated as end-use components in CNHTC’s commercial trucks.

The BigRep PRO at the 3D printing CNHTC center

The high level of precision and dimensional accuracy in the large, robust prints meet CNHTC’s need for high-quality functional end-use parts. Printing sizable parts helps CNHTC eliminate the time-consuming and manual process of assembling smaller parts that might have errors in assembly.

He elaborates, "The quality of the larger printed parts makes it easy to integrate them directly into our vehicles. This not only increases production efficiency but also allows us to respond better to the demands of the market."

The Future of 3D Printing in Custom  Commercial Vehicles

"What excites me most about the future is the possibility of using 3D printing to create more batches of end-use parts that can be directly used for manufacturing.” comments Dr. Dong.

The future of heavy duty vehicle customization with 3D printing for CNHTC

Confident in this blueprint for the future, Dr. Dong sees even greater potential for integrating 3D-printed parts directly into CNHTC’s production facilities. He concludes,

The application of 3D printing in commercial vehicles is one of the most significant technological events to have occurred in the automotive industry. The rules of the game have changed for the better, and we are using this to our full advantage

Want to Learn More about 3D Printing for Emergency and Commercial Vehicles?

Register to watch the webinar, Improve Time to Market for Custom Commercial Vehicles

Learn how large-format 3D printers give companies the flexibility and versatility to iterate fast, produce faster, and get to market faster, all while reacting to challenging customer requirements on short notice.

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR TO LEARN ABOUT

  • Large-format 3D printing and customer applications
  • How BigRep is supporting the trucking industry
  • Customer success stories from prototyping to end use parts
  • Benchmark breakdown

IMPROVE TIME TO MARKET FOR CUSTOM COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

About the author:

Patrick McCumiskey <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://de.linkedin.com/in/patrick-mccumiskey-b41a2699" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Patrick McCumiskey

Author

Patrick has over a decade’s worth of experience writing about design and technology. After first encountering 3D printing on a project while studying a Masters Degree in design, he’s taken a keen interest in the development of 3D printing and its impact on the world of design and tech.

Symbiosis of Art and Technology Through Large-Format 3D Printing

Welly Fletcher’s sculpture ‘Trans Time’, an abstract depiction of a lion-like animal printed using a large-format BigRep 3D printer.

US contemporary artist Welly Fletcher builds a bridge to prehistoric cave art with a Large-Format 3D printed sculpture made with the BigRep ONE.

40,000 years ago, cave-dwelling Homo sapiens carved out a sculpture of a lion man into an ivory tusk using primitive chisels and tools.

The sculpture, which was discovered almost 100 years ago in a cave in south Germany, remains the earliest known example of Homo sapien art - and serves as a stark reminder of the extraordinary cognitive traits which have allowed our species to develop societies, religions, and technologies.

After experiencing the prehistoric sculpture in the Museum of Ulm in Germany firsthand, Albuquerque-based artist Welly Fletcher was inspired to create a sculpture for their latest exhibition SLANT at the Richard Levy Gallery in New Mexico. The sculpture explores the historic symbiosis of art, technology, and our species' kinship with animals.

Adding 3D Printing to the Palette

Fletcher’s sculptural centerpiece ‘Trans Time’, measuring 0.9 × 2.1 × 0.7 mts (36 × 86 × 28 inches), is an abstract depiction of a lion-like animal printed using the large-format BigRep ONE 3D printer.

Beginning as a clay model produced by the artist, the piece underwent a transformative journey as it was digitally scanned before emerging as a 3D printed object, made using the University of New Mexico’s Art Lab BigRep ONE 3D printer.

“The more I learned and experimented with the 3D printer, the more magical the results became. The printer gave both myself and my students the chance to understand the process behind translating analog techniques into digital.”

commented Fletcher, who teaches sculpture and digital technology at the University of New Mexico.

Trans Time, a large format 3D printed sculpture by Welly Fletcher printed on the BigRep ONE

Paying homage to the manner in which the original Lion Man sculpture is presented in the Museum of Ulm in Germany, Fletcher’s 3D printed animal head sculpture sits proudly upon an outline of a steel animal skeleton, which itself is fixed to a plasma-cut steel base.

While the orange-coloured sculpture is both visually and physically impressive in its proportions, Fletcher's deliberate choice of BigRep's PLA bioplastic aligned perfectly with the exhibition's theme of human-animal kinship and the body’s resistance to the environmental destruction of our species. Perhaps most significantly, the absence of carbon processes and toxic oils in PLA enhances the narrative of the artwork, further emphasizing our species' complicated relationship with the planet.

“When I started reading about the non-carbon-based processes of PLA, I was even more convinced of its ability to reinforce the environmental aspect of my work”

added Fletcher, who recently added the malleable bioplastic to her palette of materials.

Large-Format 3D Printing for Sizeable Sculptures

Trans-Time-a-3D-printed-sizeable-sculptures-by-Welly-Fletcher-at-the-exhibition-SLANT-at-the-Richard-Levy-Gallery-in-New-Mexico

Fletcher was also eager to highlight the practical benefits of incorporating the BigRep ONE printer into their artistic process.

Where traditionally, artists and their teams face numerous logistical hurdles in the transportation and in the assembly of separate heavy pieces; the BigRep ONE 3D printer enabled Fletcher to print the entire Trans Time sculpture as a unified whole, thus minimizing the complexity of production and assembly.

Describing the experience as transformative, Fletcher emphasized how the seamless printing of the entire sculpture marked a significant shift in their artistic process.

While the original cave sculpture stands as a testament to the imaginative prowess of early Homo sapiens, the primitive tools of that era made its production a complex and time-consuming task, with some estimates suggesting it could have taken a group of humans around 400 hours to complete.

Welly-Fletcher-and-her-sculpture-TRANS-TIME-at-her-exhitbition-SLANT-at-the-Richard-Levy-gallery

Thanks to BigRep ONE, however, contemporary artists now have the ability to effortlessly produce much larger and more complicated forms at the touch of a button - a sentiment that further underlines the enduring alchemy of the medium of sculpture.

“3D printing grants artists working with sculpture a significant advantage. It enables the creation of objects that simply aren't feasible by hand. Witnessing the final object materialize before your eyes has a magical quality to it.””

Fletcher elaborated.

Analog Roots in a Digital World

Welly_Fletcher_Blog_1_magnificed_V3

There’s a comforting circularity associated with Fletcher’s Trans Time sculpture. On one hand, its prehistoric connotations draw our attention to the elasticity of time and the prevalence of human creativity. On the other hand, we’re reminded of the powerful symbiosis between art and technology, and, ultimately, are left with an overwhelmingly positive impression of our species thanks to the sculpture’s use of eco-friendly materials.

With digital technologies such as 3D printing proving invaluable to the field of sculpture, Fletcher’s advice to artists wanting to incorporate 3D printing into their work is simple: let the process inform the results.

Want to Learn More About Large-Format 3D Printing Applications in Exhibitions?

Whether it's fine art, museum displays, or innovative installations, BigRep 3D printers are essential for large-scale creative projects.

3d-printed-exhibition-displays

Unlimited Creativity in 3D Printed Exhibitions

  • Your imagination is the only limit to what you can create with a 1m3 building volume of BigRep 3D printers
  • Keep on schedule to manage tight deadlines by avoiding manual labor and outsourcing
  • 3D printing can reduce costly material waste and replace expensive skilled labor

About the author:

Patrick McCumiskey <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://de.linkedin.com/in/patrick-mccumiskey-b41a2699" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Patrick McCumiskey

Author

Patrick has over a decade’s worth of experience writing about design and technology. After first encountering 3D printing on a project while studying a Masters Degree in design, he’s taken a keen interest in the development of 3D printing and its impact on the world of design and tech.

3D Printing Powers Wind Turbine Research at TU Berlin

On average, wind turbine blades are a massive 80 meters long. When it comes to reengineering these towering blades, no other technology offers the freedom, precision, and adaptability to scale parts quite like 3D printing. While replicating them in a university lab might be near impossible, a scaled prototype with 1 meter blades is very much in the wheelhouse of a large-build volume 3D printer. Here, researchers go big by starting small.

Based on 3D-printed rotor blades, TU Berlin offers a course - Wind Turbine Measurement Techniques that imparts skills to measure the performance of the blades at different operating points. The students learn how to gauge the speed of the wind while at the same time assess the power generated by the turbine. The course revolves around comparing the performance of a traditionally made, hand-carved, 2 meter wooden blade with a 3D-printed 1 meter rotor blade with the gyroid infill.

The additively manufactured blade is the fruit of the research conducted by a Ph.D. and a Master’s student of TU Berlin, Jörg Alber, and Laurin Assfalg , respectively. During the study, they discovered that with 3D printing, experimenting with different infills, shapes, and materials, the sky's the limit.

Laurin Assfalg:

"3d printing was a compelling option to produce the rotor blades as it can create complex forms and enhance performance. The idea was to come up with the science that can somehow be used for big rotor blades too."

3D Printing Breathes Life into the Blades

The research's objective was to find alternative ways to fabricate wind turbine rotor blades. By creating and optimizing rotor blades on a smaller scale with 3D printing, Jörg Alber and Laurin Assfalg sought to develop insights that could be useful for additively manufacturing life-sized full-scale rotor blades in the future.

The conventional way of creating wind turbine rotor blades is through subtractive methods such as hand-carved wood, computerized milling, or molding. These processes, although time tested and well established as the gold standard in the wind turbine industry, weren’t an ideal choice for the research as these blades don’t allow customizable complex structures needed for testing. Their decision to design and produce the 3D-printed blade was the technology’s ability to create more intricate forms and infills (the internal structure of a 3D-printed part) compared to traditional subtractive methods.

3D Pinted Wind Turbine Blades for TU Berlin Research

3D printing offered efficiency in printing the blades and could easily accommodate a wide range of shapes and structures that would eventually be subjected to rigorous testing. The size of rotor blades to be printed were 1 meter in length which made the large-format industrial BigRep ONE the perfect choice. The one-cubic-meter build volume BigRep ONE is designed to manufacture massive 3D prints for the most demanding and geometrically complex applications. Housed at the maker space of the TH Wildau, the BigRep ONE produced the blades in a single seamless print, the entirety of the blades was printed horizontally without any support in less than a day.

For the design, the blades were developed using freely available intelligent software and BigRep’s BLADE. The vital settings for the print like the printing direction, layer height, wall thickness, infill structure (gyroid), and infill density were easily customizable on the BLADE software. The open access principles 3D printing is based on were yet another reason that made additive manufacturing a compelling choice in the framework of a low-budget university project.

Structural Considerations: Infill and Material

The structural design of the wind turbine blades was based on both the study of different infill structures and 3D printing material.

1. Gyroid Infill

Components such as wind turbine blades often experience a constantly changing load because of aerodynamic and inertial forces during rotation. After extensive infill research, gyroid’s isotropic properties made them an obvious choice as they endure loads that constantly fluctuate.

Gyroid Infill

The gyroid infill is made of a complex network of twisted and interconnected tubes forming a repeating pattern that extends infinitely in all directions without intersecting or overlapping. The result is a continuous lattice structure resulting in extraordinary stability at very low density which were the mainstays necessary for lightweight rotor blades. While designing this complex pattern manually might take ages, 3D printing software simplified the process automatically and implemented it in the rotor blades.

Wind Turbine Blade with Gyroid Infill
The rotor blade’s gyroid infill printed by the BigRep ONE at the maker space of TH Wildau.

Apart from its strength, gyroid infill is also known for its material efficiency. Because of the interconnected channels, it reduces material usage without compromising structural integrity. This aspect was a huge advantage while printing the blades which might have otherwise ended up being heavy and consumed a substantial amount of material.

2. BigRep’s Industrial Grade PRO HT

The research team printed the rotor blades with PRO HT as it checked the boxes: easy to print, high strength, and has the ability to withstand high temperatures. The user-friendly filament doesn’t warp often and delivered aesthetic prints with a smooth matte finish.

BigRep Filaments group

The team also considered the ecological footprint of the blades, and the industrial grade PRO HT being a biopolymer, has a reduced environmental impact when compared to filaments derived from fossil fuels.

Putting the Blades to the Test

Testing the 3D-printed blades involved structural and wind tunnel tests to evaluate how they hold up under a range of parameters.

1. Structural Testing

Researchers are checking their data

The prototype rotor blades were exposed to the ULCs (Ultimate Load Cases) with the Universal Testing Machine (UTM) at HTW Berlin.

Ultimate Load Cases (ULCs) encompass extreme loads applied during testing, while a Universal Testing Machine (UTM) is the device used to simulate or apply ULCs in structural testing. The machine evaluates how materials behave under controlled forces or strains.

What are Ultimate Load Cases (ULCs)?

The conditions under which a material or structure experiences the maximum anticipated load, stress, or forces it might encounter in the real world. By subjecting materials to these ULCs, you can gather data on how they behave under stressors which helps in the design and validation of the rotor blades for safety and reliability.

What is a Universal Testing Machine?

A Universal Testing Machine (UTM) is a device used to test the mechanical properties of materials or parts, such as tensile strength, compression, bending, and hardness. It applies controlled forces to the subject to measure how it responds under different conditions, providing valuable data for material analysis and quality assurance.

The stress tests analyzed potential damages within the 3D-printed shell like buckling and cracks when it was under certain forces. The ultimate root bending moments (maximum bending forces experienced at the root section of the rotor blade) were tested with point forces (concentrated forces exerted at specific areas) at three blade positions and in both bending directions. The blades were also tested under an intense centrifugal force of Fmax = 3000 N by a heavy-duty crane.

Despite the rigorous and thorough structural testing, the blade remained unscathed, reverting to its original shape, with absolutely no signs of cracks or buckling.

2. Wind Tunnel Tests

Wind Tunnel for the 3d printed rotor blade tests

To help the researchers find insights into the rotor blade’s aerodynamic efficiency, structural stability, and whether the wind turbine could extract wind energy, the wind tunnel tests were crucial. The tests simulated and analyzed the wind turbine blades in controlled aerodynamic conditions within the large closed-loop wind tunnel at the HFI of the TU Berlin.

Large Wind Tunnel

The wind turbine blades were designed to work best at a certain speed, but when they tested it, the researchers realized it worked better at a higher speed than what they had initially planned. Its maximum efficiency was at 5.4 times the speed of the wind, rather than the 4 times it was designed for. This was because the turbine was engineered based on natural wind flow, not the conditions inside the wind tunnel where it was tested.

The Future of Wind

The culmination of Laurin Assfalg and Jörg Alber’s research, the wind turbine with 1 meter 3D-printed rotor blades, currently resides at TU Berlin. It is the pillar of the course “Wind Turbine Measurement Techniques” and is a constant test subject for the experiments that determine what the future of harnessing wind energy might look like.

Apart from the enhanced performance of the 3D-printed blades, the study revealed other promising outcomes for the environment. The 3D-printed prototype blades produced for the Ph.D. thesis weren’t coated as part of the post-processing, so they can be easily recycled and upcycled. The research paves the way for further studies into enhancing the efficiency of wind turbines to harness clean, green, renewable wind energy.

Want to Learn More About Gyroid Infill?

Register to watch the on-demand webinar, The 3D-Printed Gyroid Improving Structurally Demanding Applications

Explore the innovative use of gyroid structures in wind turbine manufacturing and biomedical applications with expert Jörg Alber from TU Berlin. Don't miss out, watch the webinar now:

THE 3D-PRINTED GYROID: IMPROVING STRUCTURALLY DEMANDING APPLICATIONS

About the author:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

Winds of Change for Vestas: 3D Printed Tooling Transforms Wind Turbines

3D printed tooling for vestas windmills.jpg

There aren’t a lot of technologies that can propel towering wind turbines to new heights of time and cost efficiencies, but large-format additive manufacturing rose to the challenge and delivered with its eclectic range of applications.    

Vestas, a global leader in sustainable energy solutions, designs, manufactures, installs, and services wind turbines across the globe. With more than 160 GW (billion watts) of wind turbines in 88 countries, the renewable energy giant has harvested more wind power than anyone else in the game.   

When Vestas needed to replace the jigs and fixtures that help construct their wind turbines, BigRep’s large-format additive manufacturing system was tasked to produce the tooling they needed. The everyday wear and tear of industrial work on traditional metal jigs and fixtures could deform tooling in ways that cause faulty construction. The BigRep STUDIO produced resilient plastic tooling that performed flawlessly and soon Vestas found more applications for the machine than what they had initially invested in.   

Ultra Precise Large-Scale Additive Tooling

Vestas' primary requirements were to create jigs and fixtures to position a vital component, the lightning protection system, within the wind turbine's blades. Accuracy is paramount because these blades endure constant inclement weather conditions and are highly susceptible to lightning strikes. The conventional approach is to use steel jigs and fixturing tools but they came with inherent limitations. These metal tools, although robust, faced challenges with deformation and undetectable damages.

lightening-protection-system-tooling-vestas

The plastic tooling, engineered through additive manufacturing, spelled remarkable advantages over its steel counterpart. Particularly, its lightweight properties, resistance to deformation, and unique ability to yield or break under stress. Fracturing under duress was paramount as these ensured faults were detectable early on which is critical in turbine assembly.

Transitioning from traditional steel tools to advanced polymer-based 3D-printed tooling was one of the highlights of this collaboration with BigRep. The modularity of the newly designed 3D-printed tool simplified Vestas' manufacturing processes, offering versatility to accommodate different configurations with a single adaptable design.

Vestas' tooling for the installation of the lightning protection system being 3D printed on the BigRep STUDIO.
Vestas' tooling for the installation of the lightning protection system being 3D printed on the BigRep STUDIO.

The switch to 3D printed tooling led to significant improvements in both efficiency and cost reduction. Vestas observed a remarkable three-week reduction in lead time and an impressive 72% cost reduction in manufacturing these crucial components. The tooling proved to be highly precise, lightweight, and surpassed traditional manufacturing's accuracy standards by holding measurements down to a couple of microns.  

The stability of High-Temp CF material used for the tools resists changes due to temperature and humidity fluctuations making them reliable. This in turn lowered costs, reduced carbon footprint, and eliminated additional transportation expenses associated with conventional manufacturing methods.

Jeremy Haight, Principal Engineer at Vestas:

"By having Additive Manufacturing in our pocket, we were able to flood the floor with quality tooling, by which we enable our regular production workers to do more of the important spot checks, which results in better quality."

Optimized Manufacturing Efficiency and Field Service Operations

The transition from physical to digital part inventory, enabled by 3D printing, delivered fundamental advantages for Vestas. Additive manufacturing excels in production on demand, small-scale production, and swift iterations in designs, resulting in reduced costs, streamlined logistics, and mitigated expenses linked to conventional manufacturing methods. Additionally, Vestas incorporated smart fixtures, integrating sensors and circuits into their 3D-printed tools to enhance functionality and accuracy. 

Given the extensive global reach of Vestas' operations across continents, the challenges associated with lead times for spare parts and expedited costs further underscored the compelling nature of AM solutions. Aligned with Vestas' IoT strategy and Industry 4.0 initiatives, 3D printing bolstered supply chain agility—an essential factor, especially when relying on suppliers in distant countries.

This shift towards digital inventory not only eliminated tax burdens but also significantly enhanced the value of the manufacturing process. The reduced mean time to repair (MTTR) metric served as a marker for increased efficiency and reduced downtime in both manufacturing and field service operations. 

3D Printing in Response to COVID 

3d-printed-covid-door-claw-vestas
vestas doorclaw vestas

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vestas produced over 5,000 personal protective devices with their BigRep STUDIO for frontline workers in healthcare facilities. They designed and produced AM face shields and door claws to help reduce the spread of infection and create safe, hygienic working conditions. The design was made open source which resulted in more than 1000 downloads.

Circularity and Sustainability

Vestas turns their scrap carbon fiber from the manufacturing process into additive manufacturing feedstock. With BigRep's open environment ecosystem, they can upcycle waste into 3D-printed parts and prolong the life of what would otherwise go to waste. The process repurposes and transforms carbon fiber into 3D printing material by grinding, compounding, and filament extrusion:

  1. Grinding: The waste carbon fiber undergoes a grinding process to break it down into smaller particles. This grinding process reduces the carbon fiber scraps into finer granules, creating a more manageable form for further processing. 
  2. Compounding: The ground carbon fiber particles are then combined with a suitable thermoplastic matrix material. This compounding step involves mixing the carbon fiber granules with the thermoplastic polymer, often through methods like extrusion or compounding machines. This mixture forms a composite material, combining the properties of both the carbon fiber and the thermoplastic. 
  3. Extrusion: The compounded material is then heated and melted before pushing it through a nozzle to create a continuous filament of uniform diameter. This filament, now containing recycled carbon fiber, can be used as feedstock for 3D printing. 

Apart from recycling its waste carbon fiber, Vestas also substantially minimized its carbon footprint by maintaining a digital inventory of components and printing them on demand with the BigRep STUDIO. Maintaining physical inventories of components and the logistical burden associated with transporting them across continents are no longer an issue as they are printed at the location required.  

Reshaping Wind Energy

Reshaping wind energy for Vestas

By replacing traditional steel tooling with resilient plastic counterparts crafted through additive manufacturing, Vestas advanced its manufacturing capabilities in wind turbine construction. What started as a project to create tools for blade assembly and QA, then extended to the production of spare parts, streamlined supply chains, and later supported COVID initiatives. 

With 3D printing, Vestas aligned their production process with their vision: sustainable energy solutions powered by sustainable manufacturing practices.

Want to learn more about how Vestas leverages 3D printing for tooling?

Register to watch the on-demand webinar, Vestas - Windmills With 3D Printed Jigs and Fixtures.

Join Vestas’ Principal Engineer, Jeremy Haight, as he discusses the resounding success of implementing 3D printed tooling and moulds in the manufacturing of their renewable energy systems.

Sign up now to learn … 

  • Why 3D printed plastic tooling improved Vestas’ production quality
  • How in-house production helps to improve factory equipment on demand
  • Why manufacturing equipment is the “sweet spot” for 3D printed low-volume mass production
  • How hybrid 3D printing can bridge the gap for ultra-high-strength applications
  • The health and safety benefits of lightweight 3D printed parts

 Don't miss out, register for the webinar:

HOW VESTAS MANUFACTURES WINDMILLS WITH 3D PRINTED JIGS AND FIXTURES

About the author:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

3D Printing Reinvents the Bass Drum Without Missing a Beat

BigRep 3D printed drum cover image

What possesses someone to reinvent a musical instrument that’s been around for thousands of years?  

Oliver Deeg, a product engineer, and musician will tell you: boredom, curiosity, and a firmly rooted knowledge of additive technology. His dream? To create drums that aren't confined by traditional manufacturing limitations. His tool of choice? Large-format 3D printing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWWZEfa-Y00

Defying Conventional Constraints

Oliver Deeg is a man of talents and passions; CAD design, additive 3D printing technology, and e-commerce being the mainstays. His vision is to push the boundaries of design and music through Additive Manufacturing. 

Like most drummers, customizing and building his own drum kit has always been his dream. His journey began alongside a friend crafting drum sets in wood, but the constraints of traditional methods held him back from making the design truly his own. 

BigRep 3D printed drum Oliver Deeg

Meticulous woodworking is the time-tested way of crafting a bass drum. It begins with selecting quality wood like maple or birch, dried to prevent warping. Wooden staves are shaped and glued together to form a cylinder, creating the drum's shell. Precise bearing edges are then cut to optimize contact between the drumhead and shell, crucial for tone. The holes are then drilled for hardware, and the shell undergoes thorough sanding and finishing. Drumheads, made of synthetic or animal skin, are attached using tension rods. Finally, the hardware is assembled, and fine-tuning adjusts the drum's tension rods for the desired pitch and resonance. This intricate process demands skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail to create a bass drum. 

This process has been stagnant and leaves little room for experimenting with sound and design. Oliver saw the potential to produce drums that would be free of these limitations. He turned to 3D printing and his expertise in Additive Manufacturing proved advantageous, with which he began producing small drums. From small prototypes, his ideas snowballed into more ambitious projects. True to the heart of a musician and the mind of an engineer, he couldn’t help thinking BIGger.

BigRep 3D printed drum

"With 3D printing, it was the first time that I felt there are no real borders. You conceptualize an idea, and within hours, you hold a tangible prototype. It's such a dream come true”

Dreaming BIG

The turning point came when Oliver crossed paths with BigRep at Formnext 2022 which led to a collaboration that propelled his vision forward. BigRep's range of materials and large-format 3D printers were instrumental in materializing his vision - A 24 Inch Base Drum with 6 USPs: 

  1. Cone-shaped inner shell to explore new unique sounds. 
  2. Relief shell design for stability and an aesthetic finish. 
  3. Sound + cable hole to release air pressure and also double up as a means to insert microphones into the drum. 
  4. Hollow-shaped fill hole to hold granulates such as sand or can also contain water. When empty, it produces more of a violin-like sound, and when filled, results in lower frequencies. 
  5. Customized hoops to hold the drumhead. 
  6. Experimentation with a range of materials to find the best sound, fit, and finish.
BigRep 3D printed drum with lugs

He adds,

"The collaboration with BigRep was a game-changer. Their advanced printing capabilities enabled the creation of drums with exceptional quality."

Anatomy of the 3D Printed 24-inch Bass Drum

3d printed bass drum

  1. Relief Shell Design For stability and an aesthetic finish. 
  2. Holes for lugs Space for metal lugs to hold the tuning screws. 
  3. Cone Shaped Inner Shell Crafted like a megaphone, it is instrumental in creating new sounds. 
  4. The Drum Shell Main body of the drum. 
  5. Screw Holes To secure lugs from the inside. 
  6. Sound and Cable Hole Releases air pressure and doubles as a space to insert microphones inside the drum. 
  7. Hollow Shell with Fill-Hole for granulates such as sand or can also hold water.  
  8. Hoops to hold the drumhead crafted for the 3D-printed shell. Produced twice.  

Oliver's drum set is an embodiment of unconventional acoustic principles. Inspired by how sound amplifies in conical shapes, his design incorporates two shells with an acoustic space between them—a feat unattainable through conventional methods. 

He elaborates,

"Finding the right material and producing a large-scale print of this size was the biggest challenge. The drum took a few days to print. The surface, straight from the printer, was immaculate, there was no need for post-processing."

BigRep 3D printed drum close-up

3D Printing Hits the Right Note 

Plastic drums are nothing new, they’ve been around for a while. But they all have a distinct sound and feel that doesn’t stand out the way that the 3D-printed bass drum does. The very first impression of the drum for Oliver was that it sounded incredible. Not only did the sound and design deliver, but also the material and construction of the drum held its ground. When he put it under the microphone in the studio, the real difference showed up. It did not just compete with a regular drum but also sounded distinct because of its USP – The Conical Inner Shell. 

BigRep 3D printed drum Oliver Deeg in a recording studio

Starting out, Oliver knew designing the 3D file, pushing print, and producing the drum parts wasn’t going to be a simple ride. What is usually perceived as easy geometry is not, and the drum required expertise and accuracy that, along with BigRep, he was able to achieve making him a firm believer that the next wave of drum customization belongs to Additive Manufacturing.  

Given his fascination with 3D printing technology, it’s no surprise that he sees it as not just being a catalyst for a new era in creating musical instruments but also integrating into our everyday lives. For him, the future holds a fascinating prospect—a world where every household could house a 3D printer, becoming an answer for personalized on-demand production. 

“I envision a day when a 3D printer sits in every home, where ordering something means it materializes straight out of your own printer,"

Oliver concludes.

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

Leveraging 3D Printing for Automotive Customization at AVI Boston

AVI Boston turns to 3D printing for automotive customization, cutting costs and saving time.

AVI Boston seamlessly weaves technology into crafting personalized and bespoke automotive parts like dashboards, radar installations, door panels, and beyond.

What puts them ahead of the curve is their expertise in integrating cutting-edge audio and visual systems, elevating both the car’s aesthetics and functionality. Their innovative approach is amplified by their use of 3D printing to manufacture end-use parts with BigRep’s STUDIO 3D printer to bring their concepts to life.

Having been in the automotive customization game for over seventeen years, AVI recently approached BigRep to purchase the STUDIO – a large-format 3D printer.

"Finding skilled fabricators and installers is a challenge, but with our STUDIO, it's like having a full-time employee building parts. We design, press print, go away for the weekend and all the parts are ready by Monday morning."

“A big issue we were facing was that we didn’t have enough hands onboard. Finding good fabricator installers is really difficult and now we have a 3D printing machine that does that for us, it's almost like having a full-time employee building a part," said Safi Barqawi, the owner of AVI Boston.

What the STUDIO 3D Printer Brought to the Table

“We can design everything specifically, just press print and we have the entire file on our computer. The cool thing is we have a scan of the door, the dashboard, the center console, design and build it even if the car is not here.” added Safi.

STUDIO G2 features that MOVED the

needle for  AVI BOSTON 

Large Build Volume

The STUDIO G2 boasts of a generous build volume of 1000 x 500 x 500 mm, 10 times that of standard desktop 3D printers. This enables AVI to create sizable quality end-use parts in a single print job, expanding the possibilities for customization.

BigRep STUDIO - Large build volume
BigRep STUDIO Dual Extruder

Dual Extrusion

The ability to print structures with two different materials without having to swap out filaments. The STUDIO G2 eliminates the need for filament changes and opens up possibilities for an uninterrupted seamless print without changing hands.

Reduced Post Processing

Compatible with the STUDIO G2’s dual extrusion system, water-soluble support material BVOH is a revolutionary filament in post-processing. This ecologically friendly advanced material delivers support during print and massively reduces post-processing.

BigRep BVOH Water-Soluble Support Filament
Blade

Digital Inventory

Produce on demand without added costs and uncertainty of keeping stock parts. Instead of stocking up on parts and running the risk of them going to waste, AVI could hit print as needed and create intricate, functional structures like dashboards, doors, center consoles, and cup holders.

Automotive Customization with 3D Printing
Complete auto interiors 3D printed, including panels, doors, cup holders, and more.

How AVI Benefited From BigRep’s STUDIO G2

Works Around The Clock

Having the STUDIO G2 is like having an extra pair of hands in the garage that works without a pause, occasionally needing a bit of grease. “We get five orders, we just press print five times, go away for the weekend, and come back all five prints are ready for us Monday morning” says Safi. “We do a lot of magnetic kits for a specific vehicle and once we design it, we can print it as many times as we'd like without having to recreate the product itself.”

Complex Geometries And Fine Details Come Through

Car parts like custom interior panels and speaker covers need intricate designs that are time-consuming and particularly hard to achieve with traditional machining methods. “With the STUDIO G2, we’ve been designing these parts in-house and building clean structures for such intricate pieces. We would never be able to do that by hand. Getting down to that small of a detail is really hard. What would take days or weeks to get manufactured outside is done in a fraction of the time with the STUDIO.”

Automotive Customization with 3D Printed Car Parts
AVI Boston 3D prints custom car parts with the BigRep STUDIO G2.

Cost Effective Solution

One of the perks of 3D printing in automotive customization is its ability to reduce production costs. With traditional manufacturing processes, tooling and molds are often used resulting in high costs. In comparison, when AVI switched to the STUDIO, it eliminated the need for expensive tooling resulting in reduced production costs, especially when it came to low-volume production and customization.

Intuitive User Interface

“The STUDIO G2 has been nothing but positive all the way around. The machine is extremely easy to use, it's very intuitive, if you want something, you just press print as many times as you want, and it’ll just keep printing it.” The STUDIO is equipped with an intuitive user interface that enables AVI to remotely load gcodes onto the system. The other functions supported by the machine are calibration of the print bed, stop and start operations, and monitoring systems in conjunction with BigRep’s CONNECT. “So, if there are three things that we do all the time, we have three presets on there and you just press print when you are ready for it. It's a very well thought out product backed up by a very good service team.” Safi elaborated.

Assembly of 3D Printed Car Parts
AVI Boston employee examines a newly installed 3D printed door panel.

The BIG Advantage

The conventional way to produce car parts has been highly manual. With the STUDIO, AVI could directly 3D print end-use parts that cost way less and fit perfectly the first time which also helps them stay on top of project timelines. The compact design of the 3D printer was the icing on the cake that enabled AVI to host it right in their workshop. “One of the coolest things about the STUDIO G2 is that it’s sleek and allows us to be super-efficient with the space we have. This gave us the ability to design and print parts with a 3D printer in-house” concludes Safi.

Want to learn more about car customization empowered by additive manufacturing?

Register to watch the on-demand webinar, Digitizing Production of Custom Large-Format Automotive Parts.

Learn how digitizing this process drastically reduces production time and number of stages while saving money and material costs. Also hear from Jeremy Katz, owner of JK Automotive Designs, and see first hand how Katz embraced different technologies, allowing his team to offer more to their clients and continue exceeding expectations. Don't miss out, register for the webinar:

DIGITIZING PRODUCTION OF CUSTOM LARGE-FORMAT AUTOMOTIVE PARTS

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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:

Natasha Mathew <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-mathew/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Natasha Mathew

Copywriter

Natasha Mathew enjoys trying new things and one of them she’s currently obsessed with is 3D printing. Her passion for explaining complex concepts in simple terms and her knack for storytelling led her to be a writer. In her 7 years of experience, she has covered just about any topic under the sun. When she’s not carefully weighing her words, she’s reading, crafting, spinning, and adventuring. And when asked about herself, she writes in the third person.

How 3D Printing is Changing Hydraulic Engineering

3D Printed Weir in Hydraulics Lab at Helmut Schmidt University

Ever wondered how top hydraulic engineers optimize river systems without real-world risks?

Step into the advanced hydraulics lab at Helmut Schmidt University. Here, Dr. Mario Oertel and his team are transforming weir designs with the BigRep ONE 3D printer, turning digital concepts into tangible prototypes swiftly.

This fusion of time-honored hydraulic research and contemporary technology is redefining water management. The lab, discharging 1,500 liters per second through a scaled river model, goes beyond computer simulations to test and iterate weir designs, ensuring both precision and cost-efficiency.

Discover how this blend of traditional hydraulic research and modern tech is shaping the future of water management.

What is a Weir?

A weir is a lateral structure commonly used in open channel flow systems, such as rivers, streams, canals, and hydraulic laboratories, to measure and control the flow of water. It is a simple and versatile device that helps regulate water levels, monitor flow rates, and study fluid behavior. Weirs are designed to create a specific flow condition by constraining the water flow, causing it to spill over the top of the weir crest.

Weirs have a wide range of applications, including water level regulation, flood control, irrigation management, environmental monitoring, and hydraulic research. There are several types of weirs, each with different shapes and purposes. Common types include rectangular weirs, triangular weirs (V-notch weirs), trapezoidal weirs, and piano key weirs which are used in the hydraulics lab at the Helmut Schmidt University.

A fixed-crest ogee weir in Berlin, USA
A fixed-crest ogee weir in Berlin, USA

Digital Simulation vs Physical Experiments

Researchers and engineers at the Helmut Schmidt University conduct experiments and studies related to fluid mechanics, hydraulic systems, and fluid behavior as part of the civil engineering program. The hydraulics lab is equipped with various apparatus and instruments to investigate how fluids behave under different conditions, pressures, and flow rates. One focus of research is novel weir designs, which are tested in a river system scaled model: a one meter wide flume fitted with design prototypes.

By developing and testing new weir designs in the hydraulics lab, researchers can create more efficient weirs that can have a greater impact when integrated into river systems. Digital simulation is a powerful tool for researchers, but there are limits to what simulation alone can achieve. Using physical experiments with 3D-printed weirs offers several distinct advantages such as:

Real-world Validation:

Physical experiments provide direct validation of simulation results. Comparing actual measurements from the 3D-printed weir prototypes with simulated data helps validate the accuracy of the simulation model and the assumptions used.

Physical Interaction:

Researchers can observe the behavior of the flow, the water surface, and the interaction with the weir structure in real time. This hands-on experience provides valuable insights that might not be captured in simulations.

Fluid-Structure Interaction:

These experiments can capture intricate fluid-structure interactions, such as vortex shedding, eddies, and turbulence, which might be challenging to accurately simulate.

Unforeseen Phenomena:

Unexpected or complex phenomena may arise during physical experiments that were not anticipated in simulations. These phenomena can lead to new insights and discoveries.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data:

Offering a dual perspective, physical experiments churn out both quantitative (like flow rates and velocities) and qualitative data (visual observations), enriching the understanding of weir behavior.

Sensor Calibration and Verification:

To ensure accurate data collection, these experiments help to calibrate and verify measurement tools and sensors in the laboratory.Innovation and Optimization

Innovation and Optimization:

Physical experiments can spark innovation and lead to the discovery of new and optimized weir designs that might not have been considered in simulations alone.

Complex Geometries:

3D printing enables the creation of complex and customized weir geometries that may be challenging to simulate accurately. Physical prototypes can be designed and manufactured with greater freedom and creativity.

Hydraulics Lab at Helmut Schmidt University
Hydraulics Lab at Helmut Schmidt University

3D Printed Weirs for Hydraulics Research

One project by the hydraulic engineering researchers at the Helmut Schmidt University focuses on piano key weirs, so named for their resemblance to the keys on a piano. Piano key weirs are designed to efficiently manage high flow rates and prevent flooding while taking up less space than conventional weirs. This makes them particularly useful in urban and confined environments.

While weir prototypes would traditionally be constructed from laser-cut acrylic glass that must be manually glued together, Dr. Mario Oertel turned to large-format 3D printing for a better solution. By 3D printing the weirs, researchers were able to quickly see their prototypes in action while cutting costs in the process. The BigRep ONE 3D printer also allowed them to easily iterate new designs and test them in the hydraulics lab within days.

Dr. Mario Oertel, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Helmut Schmidt University, with the BigRep ONE
Dr. Mario Oertel, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Helmut Schmidt University, with the BigRep ONE

Advantages of 3D Printing Weir Prototypes

Rapid Prototyping:

3D printing allows for quick and cost-effective production of weir prototypes. Researchers can design, iterate, and test multiple designs in a short period, speeding up the research and development process. Traditional manufacturing methods often involve longer lead times due to the need for tooling and setup. 3D printing minimizes lead times, enabling researchers to conduct experiments and gather data sooner.

Ease of Iteration:

Researchers can easily create custom weir designs tailored to specific objectives. This flexibility enables the exploration of various geometries, sizes, and configurations that might be challenging or expensive to achieve using traditional manufacturing methods. To test different parameters and variables, researchers can easily modify and print multiple iterations of weir prototypes. This iterative testing process can lead to more refined and optimized designs.

Complex Geometries:

3D printing enables the creation of intricate and complex geometries that may not be feasible with traditional machining methods. This is particularly useful for exploring novel weir shapes and designs.

Cost Savings:

Traditional machining methods can be expensive, especially for small-batch or one-off prototypes. 3D printing reduces material waste and production costs, making it more cost-effective for research purposes. After a slight learning curve, the researchers in the hydraulics lab were able to adjust slicing parameters in BigRep BLADE to reduce material usage by more than 60%.

Reduced Lead Time:

Traditional manufacturing methods often involve longer lead times due to the need for tooling and setup. Typical weir prototypes are constructed from acrylic glass, which is time consuming and expensive to produce. 3D printing minimizes lead times, enabling researchers to conduct experiments and gather data sooner.

Material Selection:

BigRep offers a wide range of filaments, plus BigRep 3D printers are open for third party filaments, allowing researchers to choose materials that balance research requirements with print quality and affordability. This is especially important in hydraulics research where accurate material properties can impact prototype behavior. Researchers at the Helmut Schmidt University hydraulics lab found great results printing weirs with BigRep PLX because it is easy to print, affordable, and produces beautiful surfaces.

Educational Tool:

3D-printed weir prototypes provide a tangible representation of theoretical concepts, making it easier for researchers and students to understand and visualize fluid flow patterns, velocity profiles, and other hydraulic phenomena. They can also be equipped with sensors and instrumentation to collect data during experiments. This data can be used for analysis, validation, and calibration of hydraulic models.

3D Printed Weir in Hydraulics Lab at Helmut Schmidt University
3D Printed Weir in Hydraulics Lab at Helmut Schmidt University

Large Format 3D Printing in Research Institutes

While the BigRep ONE is placed within the hydraulics lab of the Helmut Schmidt University, other departments and students can access the large-format 3D printer for additional research and projects. This facilitates collaborative projects involving students and faculty from different departments, encouraging interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving. Additionally, familiarity with large-format 3D printers equips students with skills and knowledge that are increasingly valuable in the many industries adopting additive manufacturing.

Having a large-format 3D printer in a university can enhance the learning experience, foster innovation, and prepare students for the evolving demands of modern industries. It serves as a versatile tool that encourages creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration across various academic disciplines.

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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

LARGE-SCALE INNOVATION. LIMITLESS CREATIVITY.

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:

Lindsay Lawson <a style="color: #0077b5" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsay-lawson-152a69185/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i></a>

Lindsay Lawson

Head of Product Marketing

With an MFA in New Genres, Lindsay's background in sculpture and animation eventually led her to the world of 3D printing. She is primarily focused on applications using large-format 3D printing with additional emphasis on post-processing techniques and design for Additive Manufacturing.

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