Local Manufacturing Accelerates with BigRep PRO

The Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is a centralized technology hub that provides academic research and commercial manufacturing services to a vast partner community. Their strategic location in western Massachusetts provides convenient access to companies located in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey. Affectionately referred to as the BIC, Berkshire Innovation Center is a world-class R&D facility that offers advanced technologies for local manufacturing. Founded in 2016, the BIC has amassed an eclectic collection of simulation softwares, video production capabilities and additive manufacturing technologies that enable the partner community to reinvent what’s possible for their businesses. In 2020, the BIC welcomed the newest addition to its advanced manufacturing capabilities with the BigRep PRO 3D printer. The high demand for larger parts is what justified the initial printer purpose but the ability to optimize materials and functionality is becoming a significant advantage for local manufacturers.

berkshire-innovation-center-bigrep-pro

“Our region is so commercially diverse. It’s our responsibility to understand what technologies will bring the most value to our partner network,” says Steven Longpre, Operations Manager at BIC. “When we presented the BigRep PRO as a potential new addition, our partners were thrilled with the idea.”

BIC members include industrial manufacturers, medical device developers, agricultural specialists and defense suppliers. Gaining access to the BigRep PRO large build platform (1m3) provides immediate benefits for short run production applications and full-scale prototyping.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Dive Technologies, an American veteran-owned small business that produces autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) designed to withstand long operations at oceanic depths, constitutes one printing success with BIC.

“Yes, the ability to print large parts was advantageous for this particular project, but having stronger materials and the freedom to design complex structures is what really drove this project forward,” Longpre says. Dive Technologies printed in several materials, eventually settling on ABS plastic due to the strength characteristics that could withstand the underwater environment. Dive Technologies develops AUV’s that serve a variety of functions so building quick prototypes to scale gives them the ability to iterate faster and customize devices that are designed to solve specific problems.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles - Prototype
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles - Prototype
Commercial AUV, the DIVE-LD, in-water
Commercial AUV, the DIVE-LD, in-water

Agricultural Product Development

One of the major challenges for the Berkshire Innovation Center is to educate the region about the value of advanced manufacturing. Many of the local businesses are familiar with injection molding, CNC machining and other fabrication methods, but are somewhat hesitant to adopt new practices. This is common for any new technology adoption, so BIC addresses this by taking on any project, large or small, with the intention to share the inherent benefits of additive manufacturing. DfAM (design for additive manufacturing) is the practice of designing parts and products that take advantage of AM technology. This includes:

  • Embracing design complexity
  • Lightweighting of parts that retain similar or better strength properties
  • Product simplification, no assembly required

One such example was when the BIC 3D printed a large sled used for agricultural purposes. Typically, this product requires large tooling investments or parts must be welded together for it to function properly. The time it takes to produce this sled with traditional means could be weeks or months. 3D printing on the BigRep PRO took approximately 3.5 days.

agricultural-large-sled-1
agricultural-large-sled-2
agricultural-large-sled-3

Defense Applications 

There are a variety of defense contractors located in the Berkshire region. While the BIC is unable to publicly share details about projects being worked on, there are several applications where members have taken advantage of BigRep PRO's extensive material portfolio in defense manufacturing.

  • Nylon PA 6/66  | This lightweight material from BigRep has excellent strength-to-weight ratios and is ideal for assembly line jigs, fixtures and other production applications.
  • High Temperature Carbon Fiber | High Temp CF is heat resistant up to 115C and has increased durability for UV applications, perfect for outdoor product testing or under-the-hood applications.
  • PETG | PETG is one of the most commonly used materials for BigRep. It’s quick to print, reliable and incredibly cost effective making it ideal for low volume production purposes.

“With a more industrial system, we can bridge the gap between software, materials and hardware for true production purposes,” says Longpre. “The BigRep PRO is a robust piece of machinery that is scalable, repeatable and reliable. Something all our partners are interested in.”

Longpre and the BIC team anticipate new opportunities that capitalize on the BigRep PRO’s unique advantages.

Conclusion

The Berkshire Innovation Center is poised to accelerate the innovation and growth of existing companies within their region. Strategically focused on small to medium sized manufacturing companies (SME’s) enables BIC to respond quickly and develop creative solutions with advanced manufacturing. Although the knowledge transfer gap continues to be a challenge for Longpre and his team, they share optimism and excitement about the future. “We don’t want cheap and easy,” says Longpre. “We want the hardest challenges and are prepared to be transparent with our capabilities. Our goal is to improve product performance, test new ideas and find innovative ways to solve problems for our local industrial community.”

The BigRep PRO is one of the premiere advanced manufacturing platforms available at the Berkshire Innovation Center. The BIC is equipped with a variety of 3D printing machines and is capable of tackling any sized project. Longpre and his team consider the BIC to be an industry agnostic facility, so they pride themselves on building a diverse network of partners and collaborators. If you’re interested to learn more about the BIC, we invite you to visit them at https://berkshireinnovationcenter.com/. BIC acquired their BigRep PRO through our partner, Select Additive.

ITERATE FAST. PRODUCE FASTER. GET TO MARKET FASTEST.

The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Learn More

ITERATE FAST. PRODUCE FASTER. GET TO MARKET FASTEST.

The BigRep PRO is a 1 m³ powerhouse 3D printer, built to take you from prototyping to production. It provides a highly scalable solution to manufacture end-use parts, factory tooling or more with high-performance, engineering-grade materials. Compared with other manufacturing and FFF printing solutions, the PRO can produce full-scale, accurate parts faster and at lower production costs.

Learn More

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