German RepRap Additive Manufacturing Helps Bring Sustainable Electric Vehicle To Market

The Centre for Product and Process Development (ZPP) of ZHAW in Zurich specializes in innovative product development in mechanical engineering from the first idea to the final series product. New developments and innovations go through the entire process, from the initial vision to the final product. Research focuses on innovative methods, tools and procedures for an optimized and efficient product development process. Through an optimal combination of interdisciplinary technical and industry knowledge, technical and economic feasibility of innovative product ideas and visions can be clarified at an early stage. And of course, Additive Manufacturing is just perfect for this process.

A prime example is the so-called BICAR. In order to make a positive contribution to the current topic of sustainability and climate change, the Share your BICAR AG, which is located in the ZHAW, has taken on the challenge of creating a sustainable electric vehicle. Completely emission-free, the single-seater comes on three wheels and represents a suitable solution for urban mobility with weather protection and freedom from helmets.

3D printing enables highly complex, yet unresolved approaches and changes in existing value chains. This triggers new ways of thinking, solutions and applications for companies as well as customers. As a development partner and consultant, ZHAW's School of Engineering is one of the largest technical universities in Switzerland, providing industry with a platform to deal with the changes and challenges of this technology. Areas such as mechanical engineering, aerospace, automotive, tool and mould making, medical technology and product development are just a few of the largest.

As one of the few manufacturers of large-capacity 3D printers, the choice fell on the German RepRap GmbH, which was represented by the Swiss reseller KVT-Fastening. With the German RepRap x1000 3D printer, the ZHAW has opted for an industrial 3D printer that has an open platform, which in the case of the ZHAW is a huge advantage. Since the end of January 2019, the machine is being used primarily for topics such as functional integration, customization, lightweight construction and prototype production.

The BICAR together with its two inventors,
Hans-Jörg Dennig (left) and Adrian Burri (right)

One of the biggest advantages for the use of additive manufacturing technologies, such as the FFF process and thus also the machines of the German RepRap GmbH, is the high degree of design freedom. It enables the designers to develop completely new approaches in terms of design and function. "With traditional processes, components with complex structures and bionic shapes, as shown on the BICAR, are usually very difficult or even impossible," explains Adrian Burri, Managing Director of Share your BICAR AG. With the help of German RepRap’s 3D Printer, however, it is relatively simple, fast and has the right quality. In addition, companies benefit from shorter production times and lower costs.

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