AMS Spring 2023

Custom 3D Printed Tooling Gets Automated with BigRep’s FLOW Software

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At formnext 2021, large-format 3D printing company BigRep unveiled its new generation of printers, including the new and improved BigRep PRO and the upgraded BigRep ONE 3D printer. Now, just before RAPID + TCT, the company has introduced a customizable Software as a Service (SaaS) product, called BigRep FLOW, that should make it easier to print production aids, jigs, and fixtures, no matter how little experience you have with 3D printing and CAD software. This new end-to-end workflow solution is meant to automate not only design, but also the whole application engineering process for printing ready-to-use tooling.

The FLOW SaaS solution is a collection of Configurator Apps. First, the software product offers a customized app so customers can easily create 3D printable factory tooling that meets benchmarks and qualifications, so it can used in real-life applications. Additionally, BigRep FLOW includes multiple sample apps that can be used to print a variety of factory aids and tools, such as transporters and organizers like custom boxes, shadow boards, storage dividers, and trays. Tooling and factory aid apps can be used to create complex parts like assembly jigs and soft jaws.

“We are very excited to launch BigRep FLOW, our Advanced Workflow Automation Software, making it very easy to configure and produce the factory tooling needed on the production floor – faster and cheaper. With FLOW, we support our manufacturing clients with the customization of their operations to outpace the competition,” Dr. Sven Thate, Managing Director of BigRep, said in a press release. “Our vision is to offer end-to-end solutions for our users. FLOW can be used with a qualified printing service to turn an idea or a need into a printed solution. If speed is even more of the essence, it turns our large-format 3D printers into connected jig and fixture work-stations and more.”

The simple solution is only four steps, starting with filling out the form at the bottom of the FLOW page and telling BigRep’s engineering team what you’re looking for in a tooling or aid product. BigRep works with the customer to figure out how feasible the solution will be, based on user-defined qualifications and benchmarks, before moving into the second step—developing a custom BigRep FLOW app that can create your 3D printable production aids and tooling.

Step three is configuring the design once you get access to your custom app and have uploaded your part file. BigRep says the software enables all design configurations to be optimized for 3D printing speed and lower material costs. Finally, you can print your tool in-house on a BigRep system, or have it printed by an external service.

Once you’ve used BigRep FLOW a few times, you can log into your account and check out the App Library, which includes free sample apps in addition to custom ones already created for you by BigRep. Once you’ve opened the correct one, upload your 3D file to generate a custom fixture, and configure the parameters, before 3D printing the tool or aid or ordering it.

According to BigRep, its new FLOW SaaS solution can help save time and money by replacing existing 3D design and printing workflows. The company says that instead of days, its customizable product only takes minutes to create 3D printable tools, which would certainly help if you’re dealing with multiple design iterations. BigRep says that the cloud-based interface is intuitive, which should enable simple configuration of custom tools, as well as real-time design change calculations with “instant visualization.”

FLOW is accessible across multiple platforms, including mobile devices, and BigRep says that users don’t need any experience with or training in CAD software and 3D printing to create custom, functional engineering tools with this solution, because it’s so “straightforward and streamlined.” You can visit the BigRep FLOW page to try out the new automated SaaS solution for yourself.

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