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

Product Marketing Manager 

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.

Explore the PRO

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.

Learn More

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:
Read Now

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 the automotive
industry in our case study with Ford Motor Company

Read Now


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]

Personalized Fingerprint Stool, Custom Manufacturing with BigRep

Additive manufacturing has offered ungated access to affordable manufacturing solutions and unprecedented reductions in the cost of low-volume high-mix manufacturing. Because of these combined possibilities, a wealth of personalized products have become available to the market from all sizes of businesses.

The affordability of large-format additive technology has even changed the way professionals are introduced to manufacturing processes, which now often begins during post-secondary education with in-house industrial 3D printers. Universities everywhere are integrating additive into their curriculums in a variety of disciplines that allow students to have hands-on experience with manufacturing technology before entering the workforce.

After Australia’s University of Technology Sydney (UTS) acquired a BigRep ONE large-format 3D printer for their fabrication lab, ProtoSpace, they were eager to flex their new additive muscles and create a publishable case study. The task was taken on by Dr James Novak, at the time a postdoctoral researcher at UTS (now a Research Fellow in additive manufacturing at Deakin University) who set out to create a showcase-worthy design that would test the BigRep ONE’s capabilities and highlight its potential to produce highly customizable products.

Learn how prominent universities are integrating additive in our
guide to Large-Format 3D Printers For Education and Research

Read the Guide

Figure 2

Novak took personalization to the next level in his design, literally incorporating himself into the project by creating a stool from he and his wife’s fingerprints.

“It was designed when my wife and I got engaged and features the ring fingerprint impressions from both of us,” said Novak. He noted the project was conceived in part because of the absolute individuality of a fingerprint, highlighting the unmatched level of personalization that additive manufacturing offers.

The highly-organic design connects the fingerprint ridges, weaving support through empty space before merging in the design’s open mid-section.

Novak explained, “as the fingerprints merge through the center of the design, an organic form emerges that can only be manufactured using 3D printing, and there is no support material needed.”


To simplify the printing process, it was decided to print the design with a support raft that ensured the first layers – which are otherwise unconnected – wouldn’t warp, but Novak noted that the same result could be accomplished with the right build platform adhesive.

The resulting design is an excellent example of the unique capabilities of 3D printing: an entirely personalized end-use product with a complex geometry that can only be produced with large-format additive manufacturing.

Novak’s stool is also demonstrative of large-format additive’s unmatched potential for lean manufacturing, allowing for the creation of highly customizable products in small batch production. Combined with accessible price points and transferable design skills, large-format additive clearly presents an enviable solution at all levels of business.


Using only a small portion of the BigRep ONE’s build volume, multiple independent designs like Novak’s stool can be easily completed in the same production run, and production speed can be easily increased by taking advantage of large-format’s scalability – adding to existing machines by opting for performance enhancements like a second extruder to run in tandem.

With this unparalleled flexibility and potential for customization, large-format additive presents an accessible, future-ready manufacturing solution.


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

Ready to Fly: The World’s First Fully 3D-Printed High-Tech Airline Seats to be Premiered by BigRep at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg

Two innovative aerospace seats envisioned with Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the industry solution experience “Passenger Experience” / The Retro Seat saves 50 percent of original seat weight, while the cutting-edge bionic Aero Seat offers an all-new passenger experience.

Hamburg / Germany, April 1, 2019 - BigRep, the global leader in large-scale 3D printing (FFF segment) for industrial applications, will unveil the world’s two first fully 3D-printed aerospace seat systems with Dassault Systèmes at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg (April 2-4, 2019). Both prototypes have the potential to re-define aircraft interiors’ design as well as the passenger experience in air travel.

Opening a new dimension for Additive Manufacturing (AM) in the aviation industry, the prototypes, designed by NOWLAB, the BigRep innovation consultancy department, and manufactured on BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers, include the Retro Seat, an original airline seat which has been refurbished by using AM, and the Aero Seat, a bionic passenger seat. Strikingly elegant, both seats present visionary design unprecedented in 21st century aircraft interior composition.


Both full-size seat systems were created using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the industry solution experience “Passenger Experience”. Engineers use 3D printers to produce optimized parts by leveraging the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to design and simulate highly optimized parts based on space allocation, loads, constraints, manufacturing processes, and multi material requirements.

“Our Retro Seat saves 50 percent of weight, creating huge benefits for sustainable aircraft engineering and operational costs. Our prototypes demonstrate the massive benefits of 3D printing for manufacturers and airlines,” said Daniel Büning, co-founder and Managing Director of NOWLAB at BigRep. “In addition, jigs, fixtures and other cabin interior parts can be printed on site and on demand. In cabin interior design, 3D printing will push the limits of engineering creativity. For designers, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform will be a key tool in this process.”

“3D printing is in the process of re-defining the aviation industry, and we’re ready to fly! Our new 3D printer PRO offers an unprecedented level of precision, quality and speed, enabling us to use the high-performance, innovative printing materials the aviation industry requires.” said BigRep CEO Stephan Beyer, PhD.

BigRep and Dassault Systèmes will show how AM can be applied to any part of the cabin – from seat to armrest to sidewall panel as well as how AM enables design of individual end-use parts starting from lot size one to small series production.

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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Making full use of the unique technical possibilities of 3D-printing, the Retro Seat offers groundbreaking high-tech features such as inductive charging that permits wireless charging of smartphones. The back of the headrest is equipped with “Bring your own device” outlets to connect to tablets or other devices as well as multiple USB ports. The seat is also embedded with blue LED light panels, creating ambiance during night flights, while the arm rest is equipped with a smart cabinet solution to safely store laptops during takeoff and landing.

The Aero Seat presents a game-changing passenger seat for autonomous driving technology. This exciting seat shell design has an almost bionic touch, look and feel as the seat will adapt to the driver’s or passenger’s individual body shape: Using a 3D body scan prior to the seat production, the shell will provide its users with an unprecedented level of comfort to reduce stress and physical discomfort during long trips. Last but not least, flexible materials are being used for printing seat cushions (incl. softness factor).

Both designs are not a simple adaptation of existing, convectional airline seat frameworks, but were specifically envisioned for large-format FFF technology, setting a benchmark example for truly creative design by breaking the limits of traditional engineering. For example, both seats have a fully integrated design, i.e. any bearings or electronics can be integrated during the printing process.

BigRep will be present at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo at Dassault Systèmes’ booth 6C90E in the Hanse Pavilion.


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 more information on BigRep and its solutions and to arrange an interview with BigRep CEO, Stephan Beyer, PhD, or BigRep CBO, Frank Marangell, and, please contact:

Juergen Scheunemann
PR & Communication
PR & Communications BigRep GmbH
T +49 30 9487 1430
E [email protected]

Etihad Airways Engineering to use BigRep 3D Printers in their Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair facility

3D Printed parts on site and on demand: Etihad Airways Engineering to use Bigrep 3D printers in their Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair facility.

Etihad Airways Engineering to install large-scale 3D printer BigRep ONE to print parts and tooling, followed by a next generation BigRep EDGE industrial 3D printer to develop, test and certify material for aircraft parts.

BigRep, the global leader in large-scale 3D printing, and Etihad Airways Engineering have announced today that the airline MRO will deploy a BigRep ONE 3D printer in its Maintenance, Operations and Repair facility at the Etihad home base in Abu Dhabi. The printer will be used in daily operations to print jigs, fixtures and (non-flying) parts on site and on demand.

Its arrival highlights the first phase in a partnership between BigRep and Etihad Engineering established earlier this year, with the aim to jointly develop, test and certify new materials for 3D-printed aircraft cabin parts. With the introduction of the new industrial 3D printer PRO, BigRep is moving forward to the production of end-use parts for the aerospace industry.

Find out how automotive industry leaders have upscaled
their in-house tooling using BigRep 3D printers in our
case study with Ford Motor Company:
Read Now


Bernhard Randerath, Vice President Design, Engineering & Innovation of Etihad Airways Engineering says: “We are at the forefront of bringing this exciting technology into aviation and will work with our partners to ensure a successful certification of 3D printing technology, and with it towards the vision of a 3D-printed cabin.”

Stephan Beyer, CEO of BigRep GmbH, says: “Thanks to our 3D printers, we will accelerate the use of Additive Manufacturing in the aviation industry. With the BigRep PRO and EDGE, we will be able to unfold the full potential of our technology, together with Etihad Airways Engineering. These machines offer an unprecedented level of precision, quality and speed, and enable us to use the high-performance, innovative printing materials the aviation industry requires.”

As an innovation leader, Etihad Airways Engineering will leverage its experience around the aircraft cabin and will provide its design organisation approvals, as well as production organisation approvals and in-house flammability lab to test the 3D printed parts. In particular, BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers are suited to printing large cabin parts with the possibility of a high level of customisation – one of the most challenging requirements in the airline industry.

In addition, the aim is to jointly develop and test new material grades in accordance with EASA and FAA criteria, as there is a need for a wider spectrum of AM-suitable polymer materials that can pass the aerospace certification process.

About Etihad Airways Engineering

Etihad Airways Engineering is the largest commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services provider in the Middle East. As a subsidiary of the Etihad Aviation Group, the company offers maintenance services around the clock, including design, advanced composite repair, cabin refurbishment and component services, from its state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art facility adjacent to Abu Dhabi International Airport.


Maik Dobberack
Marketing Manager
T: +49 30 208 482 638
E: [email protected]

Etihad Aviation Group
Duty Media Officer
T: +971 50 818 9596
E: [email protected]

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