Some say working in the tech sector doesn’t leave much room for creativity. I beg to differ, and so do most others when they see what my team and I do every day at the intersection of creative and technology. Fusing together art, design and technological innovation has opened up a wealth of possibility for us here at BigRep, and for our customers and partners, in particular.
From an early stage, BigRep decided to have a creative team, and ensure it was a core function within the company. We reached out to designers, architects and artists, and sought interesting collaboration opportunities to demonstrate what large-scale fusion deposition modeling (FDM) could do.
Four years ago, when BigRep started out, not many creative professionals had ready access to 3D printing technology. The awareness level was so much lower than it is now. For us, it was about showing what it really means to use large-scale 3D printing. There’s a difference between doing something large and something that is really 1:1. We took on the exciting challenge of offering more value-added education on what FDM really is, and the potential of it.
In this post, I am keen to give more insights into how we approach our large-scale creative work at BigRep, and why I believe we’ve been pioneering a new-wave approach to creative large-scale 3D printing.
One of our early collaborations was with Munich-based industrial designer Thorsten Franck, on the London table. It is one table that can support a 20-kg plate of glass atop it, and one of the most interesting things about the design is that it can be printed in one loop, in just one day. I think it’s a great example of 3D-printed furniture because it uses the full one cubic meter of the BigRep ONE, it’s made for FDM and designed directly in the G-code, demonstrating big volume at high speed.
We also partnered with Juergen Mayer H. on a project that was about visualizing the code that banks use to disguise information, such as on the inside of envelopes. Given the cavities within the sculpture, 3D printing was the only technology to translate the digital model into a physical reality.
Another creative cooperation on perhaps the largest scale we’ve attempted yet, was with Andreas Greiner, in which the Berlin-based artist took a CT-scan of the skeleton of a broiler chicken and converted it into a skeleton the size of a dinosaur – at a scale of 20:1. Produced in partnership with the Technical University of Applied Sciences (TH Wildau), the seven-meter high sculpture was on display at the Berlinische Gallery, as part of Greiner’s suite of works representing society’s attitude to the meat industry and food production and consumption. It’s fascinating, as an artist myself, to see how our technology can bring a concept to life in a way that has such an impact on a space, and those who view it.
From early on, BigRep wanted to connect to the energy of the city here in Berlin and invest resources in projects that showed the potential of FDM, through film and dynamic content. We wanted to educate, inspire and show what the future could look like – thus the BigRep Innovation Award was born, and launched in October 2017. Starting in partnership with NOVACAD Systems, as a competition for Canadian students to design a chair for 3D printing, we want to help equip the next generation of designers, architects, engineers and artists to develop the skills and know-how to innovate with 3D printing.
I remember what it is like to submit works to open calls and competitions, so my advice for BigRep Innovation Award entrants would be: become familiar with the kinds of technologies available in the 3D printing sphere. Not everything is always ‘printable’, so learn how to design specifically with the technology in mind, and this will yield the best results.
Furthermore, try to be original, and to bring your passion and individuality to the design. Take the time to understand how the technology translates design into digital form and don’t worry about making mistakes. Our large-scale 3D printers are great trial and error tools. You can know in one day how something looks on a 1:1 scale. That changes everything – for design, for art, for creation.
Amir Fattal is Head of Marketing & Creative Projects at BigRep in Berlin. He is also an independent artist and business developer for art and culture, who has curated and participated in numerous international exhibitions in galleries and museums.