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LOCI: BigRep’s 3D printed pod car showcases embedded NFC chip tech

BigRep, the German large-scale 3D printing specialist, has brought a 3D printed “pod car” named LOCI to Formnext 2019. The autonomous electric car demonstrates the new BigRep Part DNA technology, which embeds NFC chips into 3D printed parts.

The impressive vehicle shows off the large-format printing capabilities of BigRep 3D printers. But it also demonstrates an important new technology from the Berlin-based company: BigRep Part DNA embeds into 3D printed parts unique NFC chips, which engineers can then scan using a mobile device for easy identification.

The company is also using Formnext to demonstrate new engineering materials and two large-format 3D printers.

LOCI the pod car

BigRep’s 3D printed pod car, named LOCI, is a “last mile transportation solution” for urban environments. These environments might include airports and train stations, campus transport, local deliveries and daily work commutes. Designed by NOWLAB, BigRep’s innovation consultancy, the car is also autonomous and electric.

“LOCI is more than a vehicle, it’s the evolution of personalized mobility,” said NOWLAB co-founder and BigRep CIO Daniel Buening. “LOCI is an affordable solution for urban transportation, harnessing the agility of AM while also demonstrating the cost-efficient advantages of 3D printing for sustainable AM such as manufacturing personalized products on-site and on-demand.”

One of the most exciting features of LOCI is its use of LOCI’s BigRep’s new Part DNA technology. This technology uses NFC chips embedded into 3D printed parts that engineers can scan using a mobile device. Parts therefore become easily identifiable. BigRep is planning future integration with sensors to monitor part status and provide maintenance or replacement information.

LOCI

But LOCI is also an impressive feat of 3D printing in its own right. Comprising just 14 unique parts, the pod car measures 85 x 146 x 285 cm, its largest part measuring 100 x 60 x 70 cm. To create these parts, BigRep used printers like the BigRep PRO, BigRep Studio G2 and BigRep ONE.

On-demand and customizable

Because of its printability and small part count, LOCI can be fabricated in small batches on demand, eliminating lead times and dependence on suppliers. And BigRep sees this situation as a potentially “more sustainable AM production process.”

To build LOCI, BigRep used materials such as BigRep PRO HT (for the body), TPU (for the airless tires), PLX (for the bumpers) and PA6/66 (for beams and joints).

At Formnext, BigRep is presenting three different versions of LOCI (one physical and two virtual):

  • Berlin LOCI: model of a single-person campus commuter with touch screen media display, surround sound audio, wireless phone/device charging, integrated LED lighting, TPU airless tires and embedded BigRep Part DNA technology
  • San Francisco LOCI: render concept for urban commuter with narrow body, single right-side door that doubles as rain protection, and two passenger seats
  • Dubai LOCI: render concept for airport transportation with solar panels, luggage zone and rugged tires for desert weather

Users can customize LOCI in further ways. Changeable aspects of the vehicle include handling, materials, structural properties, tires, branding and integrated solar power.

Printers and materials

In addition to the LOCI concept, BigRep is also using Formnext to showcase its hardware and materials. BigRep is demonstrating four new engineering-grade materials, PLX, PET-CF, PA6/66 and BVOH, as well as several industrial 3D printed prototypes built for industry partners. These partners include Bosch Rexroth, Airbus and Dassault Systèmes.

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