The Big Rep wheel rim aims at demonstrating the benefit of additive manufacturing for industrial use while reinventing an original design.
BigRep Product Designer Marco Mattia Cristofori wanted to bring out a design that will be more attractive than conventional wheel rims and hubcaps we use to see on cars. Furthermore, he wanted to fabricate his prototype for large-scale 3D printing.
The idea is to provide extra stability on the fluid tree-branch-like forms stemming from the center of the wheel. “These braces are a functional feature as well as an aesthetic touch and defy the norm of having just one layer or line on a wheel rim or hubcap. More complex geometries are not possible with CNC and other traditional methods, but with 3D printing there is endless possibility.”
3D printing enables to verify assembly and final production techniques, as well as to ensure it is an accurate fit.
“What we’ve developed here is a true-to-life model that can be powder coated,” Cristofori said while referring to the next steps with the design. “We are planning to Meta-Coat one of them, to see how it looks as a more final product with a highly professional effect.”
Speaking of technical details, they used the STUDIO 3D printer, which integrates a print volume of 500 mm x 1000 mm x 500 mm. According to the designer, one would obtain a similar rendering with the BigRep ONE, and the new Power Extruder. The filament PRO HT was used to enable the wheel rim to be strong enough to withstand a range of tests.
For those who are inspired by complex designs, printing with BigRep’s water-soluble support material PVA is a possible alternative. Last, apart from this wheel rim, using the same design principles, one can manufacture hubcaps, “which could be printed as end-use parts in plastic and then coated to achieve a metallic effect”.
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