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StartUp Stories: mitte meets BigRep

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Ronja Scholz from BigRep prints our latest prototype and reflects on the future of 3D Technology

While much of the process of hardware manufacture, from supply chain to assembly – is as challenging as it’s always been – prototyping, thanks to 3D printing, is faster, less wasteful and more exciting than ever before.

And so, as our hardworking mitte engineers finalize the mechanics of our machine and our development team put refining touches to the concept design, it was time to create our first 3D model.

To do this, we turned to BigRep, a groundbreaking player on the Berlin startup scene and maker of the largest serial 3D printer in the world. Industrial designer Ronja Scholz talked us through the BigRep process and philosophy, as she printed our model.
How would you describe the philosophy at BigRep?

Ronja: “The idea at BigRep is to use 3D printing really for industrial use cases. Our FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printer – the largest printer available on the world market at the moment, is bridging the gap between 3D printers designed for modeling and industrial use. Right now most of our customers use it for prototyping – to see how shapes come off. We have customers with projects that would have taken weeks and months in CNC machining, that can be done over night. So to see what kind of new shapes and projects they realize that weren’t feasible before is already quite astonishing. But in the not-distant future, when the technology has evolved a little better, we’ll be able to print final products with it.

At BigRep we’re researching different uses cases. For example applications for architecture, such as printing shells for concrete buildings. Creating molds in architecture up to this point in time, has been a resource-intensive and complicated process. You have to build the shell where you pour the concrete in, but now we’re looking at ways to print those shells and afterwards biodegrading them to take them off. As the technology gets better, we will become increasingly capable of doing more socially good and sustainable things with it.”

Tell us about the 3D print for mitte?

Ronja: “First I take your CAD-model and slice it to see how the printer will print it. FFF technology prints in layers. So you can decide the layer height, depending on the resolution and time the print should take. And with the layer itself, you can decide how thick the walls are and how the details come out.

To make it a really nice print, I decided to split the model into several parts so they all have good adhesion to the print bed. We sliced it in a way that it needs nearly no support. With FFF or FDM technology you often need support to print. We offer two solutions of support material: either support made from the same material, or from another material that dissolves afterwards, but as the geometry is beautifully simple we will print it with very little support.

So we set it up and the slicer calculates roughly 40 hours. The material we’re using to print this is PLA – polylactic acid. It’s a bio-plastic that melts at 200 degrees, therefor great for this open print, and also, of course, it’s biodegradable.”

How did the collaboration with mitte come about?

Ronja: “I got to know Moritz first at Berlin’s Fab Lab and when I returned from NYC we got in touch again because I thought mitte was such a good product. I hadn’t forgotten it.

Water is increasingly an issue globally and I think there’s many applications for mitte – outside even home use. It can contribute to good things in the world.

One good use, by the way, would be having a mitte at our office! We have coworkers from all over the world, and many of them, though often surprised about the quality of water in Berlin, are averse to the idea of tap water. So if we had one at BigRep we’d definitely put it to good use.”

About 40 hours later…

The print went brilliantly and shows just how magical rapid prototyping is. With our model we can now test everything from size to shape to aesthetics and basic layout as we fine-tune our way to perfect form and functionality.

While refinements will no doubt be made before the machine goes into full scale production, the consensus back at mitte HQ is that the 3D model essentially proves the fundamentals of our design. And it’s saved us weeks of time and energy. So we’re excited and on track for the next phase of our journey to market.

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BigRep presents: Modular lamp for children’s room

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3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and is in the process of replacing many other production methods. Our design team decided to put this idea to the test by looking at which plastics technologies we could replace with large-scale 3D printing.

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A Visit to The Lab Where Autodesk Looks for the Spark to Jumpstart 3D Printing

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Ever since it was established, Autodesk Spark sparked questions on what its actual goals and practical objectives were.

While in Israel I figured I would take a look for myself at the Autodesk Israel 16th floor office, where most of Spark development is carried out. I met with Eitan Tsarfati, whom I had already the opportunity to meet in Milan a few years ago, during an event I had organized in collaboration with Autodesk Italy for Design Week.

I was very happy to find out that he is now in charge of the 3D Printing Group and Consumer Products at Autodesk Israel, running Autodesk’s most important 3D printing program outside of the main Bay Area offices. Like the Milan one, Autodesk’s offices in Tel Aviv are an amazing place to work. The view from the 16th floor lets you see the entire panorama, all the way to the beach and the old city. Inside the atmosphere is both stylish and casual, with a lot of open spaces which certainly favor creativity and exchanges.

Of course when it comes to hardware it is easier to understand more about it by seeing in person. With software it is a bit more complicated but nevertheless my visit was very useful to understand exactly where Autodesk stands in its quest to create a complete ecosystem for 3D printing.

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Sustainable 3D-Printed Furniture By NOWLab

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3D printing is a process that translates a digital file into a three dimensional object. Usually, a printer lays down layers and layers of an object until the whole form is created. Nowadays, the technology can be applied to create small medical implants used in chest surgery or life-size furniture for your home.


Berlin-based interdisciplinary design studio NOWLab delves into the latter and uses 3D printing to create furniture that strive to be sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. Founded by Jörg Petri and Daniel Büning in 2014, NOWLab combines architectural thinking with digital technologies in works that range from product design to urban plans. Earlier this year, the pair worked with 3D printing company BigRep to produce an innovative table/stool inspired by the rippled forms of Alaska’s Mendenhall glacier.

The stool was produced on a 1 meter³ volume 3D printer, one of the biggest on the market.

We spoke to the creative duo at their studio—which was filled with 3D-printed objects—about what it means to incorporate digital technologies in their designs, why nature is such a big influence and what makes NOWLab different from other design studios…

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BigRep goes gold: German Design Award 2016

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A jury of more than 30 experts specializing in various fields of design has decided: BigRep is honored with the German Design Award 2016 for its outstanding achievement in product design. We received the first prize for our success model BigRep ONE.2 and feel honored to top the list of winners in the category “Workshop and Tools”.

The German Design Award is awarded annually by the German Design Council, one of the world’s leading centres of expertise for communication and branding in design. Since 2012 it has been honoring outstanding achievements in product and communication design with the international premium prize. This year, the design contest saw 3,400 submissions in 42 categories and thirty three percent of the submissions came from outside Germany.

bz5con7g“Receiving the German Design Award is a great success for us! We pay great attention to detail in the construction of our 3D printers 
including their design. This award shows us that functionality and appealing design do not have to exclude one another in industrial production.”
René Gurka, CEO


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BigRep and NOWlab

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As part of our dedication for design and innovation BigRep has presented at the 3D PRINTSHOW in Berlin the first artist collaboration with NOWlab architects Daniel Büning and Jörg Petri. The project is one of many collaboration with artists, architects and designers that BigRep is developing this year.

The original design is called the „ATLAS” Stool, it is the consequence of a deep admiration of the natural forces that shape the tectonics of mountain chains and their respective valleys and mountain peaks.

In an additive process material is added over time in a layer by layer manner, resulting in different height plateaus that can consist out of multiple matter. Therefore a cross-section of those topographic textures reveals the stratification (layered arrangement) of different materials over time.
The design process of the ATLAS stool is therefore under the explicit consideration and awareness of the above described geological phenomena. The typical layering procedure of the additive manufacturing process is here utilized in combination with a set of different materials to accentuate and underline the distinctiveness of the stools bottom view.

In this design case the typical characteristic of the FDM-manufacturing technology is therefore directly in cooperated into the design philosophy of the piece and underlines the uniqueness of its resulting silhouette.