BigRep Defies Conventions with Custom Wheel Rims


The wheels are always in motion here at BigRep, to consistently dream up objects that push the boundaries of design for 3D printing. BigRep Product Designer Marco Mattia Cristofori wanted to develop an object that demonstrated the benefit of 3D printing for industrial use, while also focusing on original, striking design. Introducing, the BigRep wheel rim.

Like BigRep as a company, working at the intersection of design and technology, Cristofori’s wheel rim is a meeting of advanced design and industry.

In preparing for this project, Cristofori looked at wheel rims and hubcaps for vehicles, and thought he could go even further with a design that what you usually see gracing the average car. An alternative to CNC-machining a prototype, he wanted to design the wheel rim prototype for large-scale 3D printing.

Particularly in the US, customization of these kinds of vehicle features is very popular. Prototyping these custom parts is, however, often an expensive, time-consuming process. With 3D printing, it becomes a much easier process to design such automotive prototypes for form checks and molding.

Providing extra stability are the fluid tree-branch-like forms stemming from the center of the wheel. These braces are a functional feature as well as an aesthetic touch, and defy the norm of having just one layer or line on a wheel rim or hubcap. More complex geometries are not possible with CNC and other traditional methods, but with 3D printing there is endless possibility.

“With 3D printing you can prototype organic forms, like with our Terra chair,” said Cristofori. “It allows you to envision more complex shapes, because you don’t really have any limits.”

The dimensions of end-use wheel rims must be perfect, thus 3D prints can be used to verify assembly and final production methods, to adjust little by little in ensuring it is a sublimely accurate fit.

3D Printed Wheel Rim

“What we’ve developed here is a true-to-life model that can be powder coated,” Cristofori commented, in speaking about next steps with the design. “We are planning to Meta-Coat one of them, to see how it looks as a more final product with a highly professional effect.”

The team printed the wheel rim on the STUDIO 3D printer, which has a print volume of 500 mm x 1000 mm x 500 mm. Cristofori points out that a similar level of detail and precision is now possible on the BigRep ONE, with the new Power Extruder.

Printed using high-temperature-resistant filament PRO HT, the wheel rim is strong enough to withstand a range of tests. For more complex designs, printing with BigRep’s water-soluble support material PVA is also recommended. While not fully functional as wheel rims (which are usually cast in steel), the same design principles can be applied to hubcaps, which could be printed as end-use parts in plastic and then coated to achieve a metallic effect.

Discover our Industrial Use Cases

In a similar vein to his work on the architectural model the Villa Ancora, and his colleague Florian Schärfer’s bionic propeller design, Cristofori wanted to show the potential that BigRep printing technology to create large-scale objects that achieve smooth lines, fluid form and high-level detail. For his next design project, Cristofori will be focusing on prototyping a few automotive parts to improve their aerodynamic properties – he is not giving too much away, but it may involve a wind tunnel!

As well as creating its own in-house solutions for testing and development, BigRep also works with customers to help them find custom automotive applications to solve their own specific business challenges. For more information, or to arrange a free consultation, click here.

Get a virtual demo and overview
of the new easier-than-ever PRO.


We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audience is coming from.
By choosing I Agree you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies.

Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

For perfomance reasons we use Cloudflare as a CDN network. This saves a cookie "__cfduid" to apply security settings on a per-client basis. This cookie is strictly necessary for Cloudflare's security features and cannot be turned off.
  • __cfduid

We embed videos from our official YouTube channel using YouTube’s privacy-enhanced mode. This mode may set cookies on your computer once you click on the YouTube video player, but YouTube will not store personally-identifiable cookie information for playbacks of embedded videos using the privacy-enhanced mode.
  • PREF
  • GPS
  • YSC

We track anonymized user information to improve our website.
  • GTM

This website uses ActiveCampaign (AC) as the designated CRM to track user interaction (trough AC cookies are necessaries but no IP or personal data will be saved if you don't convert on one of our forms (cookie visitorEmailAC). We use this to better understand how people interact with our site and to see their journey through the website.  
  • ac_enable_tracking
  • visitorEmailAC

Contains the current language of the admin and the user.
  • _icl_current_admin_language
  • _icl_current_language

Cookie required to allow a user to stay logged in to a web site without needing to submit their username and password for each page visited. Without this cookie, a user is unable to proceed to areas of the web site that require authenticated access.

These cookies are set by WordPress are used for indication and identification of the logged in user. Those are session cookies.
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec_
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wp-settings-
  • wp-settings-time-
  • utm_source
  • utm_campaign
  • utm_medium
  • handl_url
  • handl_landing_page
  • http_referrer

Decline all Services
Accept all Services