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BBCode | 人氣4790
feeviay - 產業資訊 | 2014-03-07 19:47:14
 

 

Growing up under communist rule in East Germany, Lukas Oehmigen didn’t have much in the way of worldly possessions, but he did develop an intense interest in DIY. When art school beckoned he turned his attention to the world of 3-D printing and developed a giant-sized fabricator that can print objects larger than a La-Z-Boy recliner.

Its aluminum frame is just over five feet in every dimension and the build area is a robust 45x39x47 inches. Oehmigen named the original prototype “Le Big Rep” in honor of Pulp Fiction, though his new 440-pound, $39,000 printer has been anglicized to the simpler BigRep.

Technically, it compares favorably to more modestly sized fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers like the MakerBot. This prodigious 3-D printer features a 100 micron layer thickness, the ability to print PLA, ABS, and other experimental plastics, and a dual-extruder print head which allows the system to print in multiple colors or create more advanced geometries using a removable support material.

It takes approximately two spools of material, about $150 worth of plastic, and five days of print time to create a full-sized end table. Ikea won’t face competition on the cost front just yet, but before long it may be possible to print a stylish, inexpensive living room set without having to brave the crowds at the Swedish furniture superstore.

For those concerned about sitting on a 3-D printed chair, have no fear. Oehmigen regularly stands atop the parts he’s fabricated to demonstrate their strength. “You can print usable structurally strong parts, which you can bend like a strongbow, at the same time being as hard as a bone,” he says.

Size Solves Problems

BigRep was inspired by life behind the Iron Curtain, but also represents one of Communism’s most famous maxims—Quantity has a quality all its own. One of the knocks against FFF 3-D printing is the low-resolution and ridged surface typical of the process, but when scaled up to the size of furniture, the trademark texture feel more like woodgrain than a manufacturing defect. “I was not really interested in producing perfect prints,” says Oehmigen. “In fact I was pleased by all the little errors and oddities the machine embedded in the prints.”

Working at a giant scale also creates compelling design opportunities. Novel plastics with conductive, magnetic, and aesthetic properties will enable designers to experiment with new kinds of constructions. Used in a smaller printer, these materials could help an eighth-grader win a science fair, but at large sizes could actually have practical applications. “I think many new kinds of business and things will evolve out of this technology,” says Oehmigen. “We get inquiries from all over the place, from oil-rig manufacturers, experimental vehicle builders, furniture designers, the defense industry, and medical stuff.”

Oehmigen was also motivated by a desire to use more environmentally-friendly plastics to ensure that the massive objects created by his machine didn’t end up in landfills. He optimized BigRep to use PLA, a biodegradable plastic derived from corn, which has the side benefit of being more dimensionally stable.

big-rep-inline

Hand tools next to printer parts help establish the scale of this prodigious 3-D printer. Photo: BigRep

The seven-month-old company has primarily focused on furniture so far, but are working on ambitious plans to tackle automotive and architectural scale projects soon. “These probably wont look like your ordinary car or house though,” he warns.

BigRep does have drawbacks and Oehmigen suggests that operators monitor their print’s progress and adjust the machine’s settings in real time to prevent errors and to better control the surface finish. “We actually want a new profession to take hold, called the ’3-D Manufacturer,’ and create a lot of jobs, instead of doom thinking about how all jobs are lost to robots,” he says. “Machines are not as perfect as we think they are, they need care from us humans, and that’s a good thing.”

Where Karl Marx was obsessed with workers controlling the means of production, Oehmigen is building a more uptake take on the idea. “We invite everyone to take part and become your own manufacturer,” he says. “Lets create the world we want to live in together, instead of leaving that part to other people you don’t know, and complaining about it afterwards.”

http://www.wired.com/design/2014/03/gigantic-3-d-printer-replace-ikea/

BBCode | 人氣4790

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