BigRep showcases 3D printed autonomous electric podcar ‘LOCI’ at Formnext 2019

At Formnext 2019, German large-format 3D printer manufacturer BigRep has unveiled an entirely 3D printed autonomous electric podcar, known as LOCI. 

A design prototype, LOCI is intended to showcase the application of large-format additive manufacturing in designing and creating functional end-use transportation. The 3D printed vehicle also premieres “BigRep Part DNA” technology, which embeds NFC chips into the 3D printed parts. 

LOCI forms the centrepiece of the company’s exhibition at Formnext, presenting a wide range of 3D printing applications, featuring collaborations with Bosch Rexroth, Airbusand Dassault SystèmesThe company is also presenting four new materials for large-format 3D printing: PLX, PET-CF, PA6/66, and BVOH. Martin Back, BigRep Managing Director, commented:

“We are excited to be once again leading the way in utilizing the full potential of AM applications across industries by presenting the LOCI prototype and other industrial prototypes with, Bosch Rexroth, AIRBUS and Dassault Systèmes.”

The LOCI prototype. Photo via BigRep.
The LOCI prototype. Photo via BigRep.

Paving the way for 3D printed functional end-use transportation

The LOCI prototype is a fully 3D printed podcar designed by BigRep’s innovation consultancy, NOWLAB. It was created as an autonomous and electric “last-mile transportation solution” specifically for urban environments. This can include daily work commutes, campus transport, local deliveries and airport, and train departures. 

It features 14 unique 3D printed parts, and measures 850 mm x 1460 mm x 2850 mm, with the largest component coming in at 1000 x 600 x 700 mm. All the parts were 3D printed using BigRep’s large-scale FFF 3D printers, including the BigRep PRO, BigRep Studio G2, and BigRep ONE. BigRep’s PRO HT filament was the material used for the body, whereas TPU was selected for airless tires. The bumpers were created with PLX, and the designers opted for PA6/66 for the beams and joints. 

During last year’s Formnext show, BigRep presented a similar application of its 3D printing technology. Also developed by NOWLAB, the company exhibited a fully functional electric motorbike named NERA featuring BigRep’s 3D printed airless tire design.

 “LOCI is more than a vehicle, it’s the evolution of personalized mobility,” explains Daniel Buening, NOWLAB co-founder and BigRep CIO.

“LOCI is an affordable solution for urban transportation, harnessing the agility of AM while also demonstrating the cost-efficient advantages of 3D printing for sustainable AM such as manufacturing personalized products on-site and on-demand.”

The LOCI prototype. Photo via BigRep.
The LOCI prototype. Photo via BigRep.

Adaptable 3D printed vehicle for different environments

Harnessing the benefits of additive manufacturing, LOCI’s design is customizable, and can, therefore, be adapted to the user’s location or application. For example, special tires can be equipped for different terrains. BigRep’s Formnext showcase has three different LOCI iterations on display. 

The BERLIN LOCI model is designed for commuting on campus, and features a touch screen media display, surround sound audio, wireless phone/device charging, and BigRep Part DNA NFC technology. Using a mobile phone, users can scan embedded NFC tags to identify the 3D printed part. BigRep plans to integrate sensors into its Part DNA technology for maintenance and monitoring as well. The other two iterations are the SAN FRANCISCO LOCI for urban commuting, and the DUBAI LOCI for airport transportation. Both are present at the show in render concept versions. 

Furthermore, unique prototypes or small batches of LOCI can be locally produced on demand. This eliminates added costs, long lead times and dependence upon a supplier. It also presents an alternative to large warehouses and remote production facilities, creating a more sustainable production process. LOCI vehicle production can be upscaled with added BigRep 3D printers as well.

Digital render of a customized LOCI vehicle. Image via BigRep.
Digital render of a customized LOCI vehicle. Image via BigRep.

Other BigRep applications at Formnext 2019

As well as LOCI, BigRep is also presenting the NEXT AGV (autonomous guided vehicle), an autonomous transport system, developed by NOWLAB in collaboration with Bosch Rexroth, a subsidiary of global engineering and electronics company Bosch. Presented at Hannover Messe earlier this year, the NEXT AGV features a 3D printed shell that can be adapted for different industrial applications, such as an automated logistics carrier. The two companies have previously collaborated to integrate IoT, 5G and CNC control systems into BigRep’s 3D printers. 

Another BigRep prototype present at Formnext is the AIRBUS INVESTMENT SHIPPING CASE, a 3D printed case made from TPU for transporting delicate aerospace equipment in need of maintenance. Such cases are usually individually manufactured by hand, limiting their availability. Using BigRep 3D printing, the full design and manufacturing process can be reduced to just 60 hours, greatly optimizing the supply chain. 

Furthermore, attendees will be able to see BigRep’s Retro Seat prototype, which is an original airline seat frame refurbished by NOWLAB. It was developed in collaboration with Dassault Systèmes, using the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Reportedly, the Retro Seat is 50 percent lighter than a standard airline seat.

You can catch BigRep’s vast collection of 3D printing applications, as well as its large-format 3D printers and new materials, at Booth C121, Hall 12.1, during the Formnext show. 

The Nera e-motorbike by BigRep. Image via BigRep
The Nera e-motorbike by BigRep. Image via BigRep

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Featured image shows the LOCI prototype. Photo via BigRep.