Large scale 3D printer manufacturer BigRep has new products due to be unveiled in Frankfurt at Formnext this week.
I got a few hints about what to expect from BigRep CEO Stephan Beyer as we discussed topics including large format applications for 3D printing and how the industrial market is demanding more from additive manufacturing systems.
Setting the standard for the 3D printing
Beyer tells me that the forthcoming 3D printers from BigRep will set a new standard for the industry. In terms of quality: repeatability and increasing print speeds allow significantly improvements in throughput. The end-benefit for users: economic savings and access to engineering and performance grade materials.
The details of the forthcoming new extrusion based technology is still under wraps. However, Beyer explains that is has been developed in conjunction with a partner who will be immediately recognizable to anyone in the industrial world. And it is this world where BigRep plans to grow.
24/7 3D printed production – ‘it’s in our DNA’
“The current quality of today’s 3D printers is not acceptable [for industrial customers]” explains Beyer. The CEO believes that the precision, repeatability and materials palette demanded by such customers is currently lacking and the new offerings from his Berlin-based company will address this.
Demand for the large format FFF industrial 3D printers made by BigRep comes directly from end-users. “Customers tell us they want big parts, they don’t want to glue parts. We’re hearing this all the time from customers,” says Beyer. For these customers a build volume of a cubic meter is the minimum.
If the demand from customers is already in the market, then why are there so few companies addressing large format 3D printing? Beyer explains that it’s far from a simple matter to build a machine with such capabilities. “Making something that can run 24/7, 365 – and this is precision equipment – it’s in our German DNA!”, he jokes.
The path to Industry 4.0
BigRep now comprises 90 people and has opened a subsidiary in the U.S. Remarkably for what some may consider a relatively small company, a sizeable number of employees are engaged in R&D activity – 35 in total. Beyer says R&D is, “a fully fledged activity, you can’t do this with 1 or 2 people.” Percentage wise, this level of R&D activity puts many larger enterprises in the shade. I ask whether some of this work with see BigRep expand beyond FDM 3D printing.
“We’re driven by applications,” says Beyer, “Bringing printers to market does set standards, but we are also setting a path.”
This path to industrialization includes challenges around precision, speed and cost but are also related to data and IoT. “You need to get data back from the part printed,” explains Beyer, these future industrial processes will utilize analytics from long term usuage and also look at integration with existing industrial systems.
“We’re in a period of awaking. Customers now understand the value and benefit of 3D printing,” says Beyer. However the next wave of industrial users will demand that 3D printing meets, “their standards, and not to the standard of the 3D printing industry of the past 20 years.”
“BigRep is here to set new standards and deliver on the promise of 3D printers.”
Featured image shows BigRep CEO Stephan Beyer. Photo via BigRep