BigRep has just announced its new full-scale 3D printer, the BigRep ONE, which offers a 45 x 39 x 47” working volume — that’s big enough to produce full-sized prototypes of many large items, such as an entire dining room table. At just over five feet on each axis for the frame, with a slightly smaller working area within, the BigRep aims to fill a niche between the small enthusiast devices that have made additive manufacturing so popular and the industrial-sized devices that would be both cost- and space-prohibitive for entrepreneurs and small companies.
The $39,000 printer comes as an unassembled kit, which the company says takes about two hours to put together. They also say there’s a degree of customization, although it’s not exactly clear how that will work — perhaps the capacity to make the working space taller, or wider in one dimension based on specific needs. It’s the biggest fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer on the market right now.
BigRep says that with the FDM process, users can make everything from artistic, custom-designed chairs to technical parts in high-impact Nylon or ABS. And they stand behind the quality of the parts it’s capable of making — every BigRep ONE uses 3D-printed parts made on another BigRep ONE.
The company says it wants people to “make manufacturing local again,” and positions the device as a way for small businesses or product designers to develop full-scale prototypes in their own walls rather than outsource the work elsewhere, whether that be around the corner or around the world.
Wired says it takes about $150 in plastic and five days to print a full-sized end table, as seen in the video below, so there’s still a lot of work that could be done in terms of cost and speed.
Either way, it seems like a big step in bridging the gap between niche uses or prototyping needs and the actual manufacturing of a final product. The technology has a long way to go before a company might be able to make enough furniture, for example, to compete against any retailer, but, as with all new manufacturing processes, there’s a great deal of work before any new method of production is both fast and profitable. BigRep, at least, takes things a little further in the right direction.