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Launching the BigRep Innovation Award – Open Call to Canadian Students

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

Complex, intricate structures emerging from a BigRep ONE

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

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

The Ocke Stool. Take a seat, and get inspired

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ocke Stool: clearly thought out and executed

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

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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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