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.
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