3DP Applications

BigRep live 3D prints 4m x 4m recycled plastic wall

Large format 3D printer manufacturer BigRep has started 3D printing an urban green habitat installation named GENESIS Eco Screen. Using only recycled plastic, the work showcases the potential of additive manufacturing as a sustainable means of architecture. It’s build is currently ongoing on public view at Humboldt University in Berlin. GENESIS is set to premiere at Fiction Forum cultural exhibition in a month.

GENESIS Eco Screen

The GENESIS Eco Screen project is led by BigRep’s award-winning NOWLAB team, in collaboration with artist  Lindsay Lawson. Taking the shape of a sculptural wall, it is an eco-structure with added functionalities. Four BigRep ONE 3D printers have been set to make the screen, using multiple filaments consisting of BigRep PETG and BASF Innofil3D rPET.

3D printer filaments in GENESIS are made 100% from recycled PET. The plastic bottles are sent to a collection point, cleaned and pre-processed. Following this, they are turned into printable raw material, using a raw paradise Dual Axel Shredder. A long strand of 2.75 mm diameter filament is extruded and coiled on spools for 3D printing. The five-step production process will be detailed in the circular economy exhibition running alongside the 3D printers will further. 

GENESIS Eco Screen. Image via BigRep.

Mimicking a massive root system found in forests, GENESIS, we completed will measure 4m x 4m. Features of the screen include an embedded water and drainage system for plants and a shelter for solitary bees. A similar concept, termed the BANYAN ECO WALL, was previously explored by the NOWLAB team in June this year. Potentially an early concept for the GENESIS Eco Screen, the BANYAN wall has an inbuilt water and drainage system.

Advanced generative design algorithms and agent-based modelling are used to create the GENESIS Eco Screen. With only a few preset parameters, these computer tools can autonomously design the complex geometries. The diameter of 3D printed “branches” is optimized by a data analysis of sun exposure across the installation. Shading features and plant positioning are also created and adjusted accordingly.

3D printing filament from plastic waste 

A circular economy is based on the sustainability principles of resource optimization and waste reduction. While the concept has gained popularity, it is yet to be fully put into practice in cities, however some projects, like Barcelona’s FabCity concept have made an attempt. The GENESIS Eco Screen, for BigRep, is an attempt to demonstrate how cities can adopt these principles.

As a closed loop process, between bottle waste and production, GENESIS Screen productions demonstrates how to narrow the gap between resource input, waste, emissions and energy usage.

According to Daniel Büning, BigRep CIO and NOWLAB Managing Director, it “shows how society can develop a greener future – with circular economy solutions that are sustainable, local, modular and collaborative.” In addition, “With this project,”  Büning says, “we are introducing a new and truly sustainable manufacturing protocol to the manufacturing of polymer objects using multiple pre-used plastic materials.”

The GENESIS Eco Screen is scheduled for completion in late August. Once completed, it will be exhibited alongside other cultural and creative projects at the Fiction Forum exhibition center. Fiction Forum runs from 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays in October 2019.

Four BigRep ONE 3D printers in Thaersaal. Photo via BigRep.

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