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Exploring the Future of Fiber Layups with BigRep 3D Printed Parts

The EXBuild Team on Apr 30, 2024 11:30:00 AM


Innovation in manufacturing has always been a dynamic field, continually pushing boundaries and redefining what’s possible. One such breakthrough is the integration of fiber layups with BigRep 3D printed parts. This fusion of traditional composite manufacturing techniques with cutting-edge additive manufacturing opens up a world of possibilities, offering unparalleled design freedom, structural integrity, and efficiency.

The Marriage of Fiber Layups and BigRep 3D Printing

Fiber layup, a technique where fibers such as carbon, fiberglass, or Kevlar are layered and impregnated with resin to form strong, lightweight composite structures, has long been a staple in industries like aerospace, automotive, and sports equipment manufacturing. On the other hand, BigRep's large-scale 3D printers are renowned for their ability to fabricate massive objects with speed and precision, using various thermoplastics.

Bringing these two technologies together allows for the creation of composite structures with tailored fiber orientations, complex geometries, and minimal material waste. The process involves printing a base structure using the BigRep printer and then precisely placing fiber layers on top, either manually or with automated systems, before curing the composite in an oven.

Exploring the Future of Fiber Layups with BigRep 3D Printed Parts

Advantages of BigRep 3D Printed Parts in Fiber Layups

Design Freedom

BigRep’s large build volume enables the fabrication of parts that were previously unfeasible with conventional manufacturing methods. Complex geometries, intricate lattice structures, and integrated features can all be achieved in a single print, eliminating the need for assembly and reducing overall production time.

Lightweight and Strong

By strategically placing fibers along load paths, engineers can optimize the strength-to-weight ratio of composite parts. This allows for the creation of lightweight components without compromising on structural integrity, making them ideal for applications where weight reduction is critical, such as aerospace and automotive industries.


Traditional composite manufacturing often involves labor-intensive processes, such as cutting and hand layup, which can be time-consuming and costly. With BigRep 3D printed parts serving as the base structure, the overall production time and labor costs are significantly reduced. Moreover, the ability to consolidate multiple components into a single print further lowers manufacturing expenses.


Additive manufacturing inherently produces less waste compared to subtractive methods like machining, as it only uses the material necessary to build the part. Additionally, by incorporating fiber reinforcement into 3D printed parts, manufacturers can further enhance their sustainability credentials by creating durable, long-lasting products that require less frequent replacement.

Preparing the BigRep 3D Printed Parts:

Optimize the Print Settings

Start with optimizing your BigRep printer settings for the specific material you're using. This ensures good layer adhesion and surface finish, which are essential for effective fiber bonding. Using the adaptive layers feature, the user can optimize the layer density to improve surface quality for

Consider Surface Treatment

Depending on the material, you might need to prepare the surface of the 3D printed part for better adhesion. Techniques like sanding or chemical treatment can enhance the bonding between the fibers and the printed surface.

Design for Fiber Integration

When designing the 3D printed part, consider features like grooves, slots, or tabs where the fiber layers can be easily laid. These features aid in alignment and prevent shifting during the layup process.

Exploring the Future of Fiber Layups with BigRep 3D Printed Parts

Fiber Layup Tips:

Plan Fiber Orientation

Before starting the layup, determine the optimal fiber orientation for your specific application. Consider factors like load direction, structural requirements, and manufacturing constraints. Fiber always works better in tension than compression, so this needs to be considered in the design and process.

Use Templates or Molds

Creating templates or molds that match the contours of your 3D printed part can simplify the fiber layup process and ensure consistency across multiple parts.

Implement Automated Placement (if possible)

If available, consider using automated fiber placement systems to achieve precise fiber alignment and reduce manual labor. These systems can improve efficiency and accuracy, especially for complex geometries.

Apply Resin Evenly

Ensure the resin is evenly distributed across the fiber layers to achieve uniform bonding and optimal mechanical properties. Use tools like rollers or brushes to spread the resin evenly without creating air bubbles.

Curing and Post-processing:

Controlled Curing Environment

Maintain a controlled curing environment, including temperature and humidity, to ensure proper curing of the resin. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for curing time and temperature.

Trimming and Finishing

After curing, carefully trim excess fibers and resin to achieve the desired final shape and dimensions. Sand or polish the surface as needed to achieve the desired finish.

Exploring the Future of Fiber Layups with BigRep 3D Printed Parts

General Tips:

Practice and Experiment

Fiber layup can be a complex process, so don't hesitate to experiment with different techniques and materials to find what works best for your specific application. Practice on smaller test pieces before moving on to larger, more critical components.

Document and Learn

Keep detailed records of your process parameters, material choices, and outcomes. This documentation will help you refine your techniques over time and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Safety First

Always follow safety precautions when working with resins and fibers. Use proper protective equipment, work in well-ventilated areas, and follow material handling guidelines to minimize health risks.

By following these tips and tricks, you can optimize your fiber layup process with BigRep 3D printed parts, resulting in high-quality composite structures with exceptional strength and performance.

Exploring the Future of Fiber Layups with BigRep 3D Printed Parts

Applications and Future Prospects

The integration of fiber layups with BigRep 3D printed parts has the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries:

  • Aerospace: Lightweight, high-strength components for aircraft and spacecraft, including interior panels, brackets, and ducting.
  • Automotive: Structural components, body panels, and chassis parts that offer superior strength and performance.
  • Marine: Hulls, propellers, and other marine components that are resistant to corrosion and fatigue.
  • Sports and Recreation: Bicycle frames, helmets, and sporting equipment that combine lightweight construction with durability.

Looking ahead, advancements in material science and process optimization will further enhance the capabilities of this hybrid manufacturing approach. From experimenting with novel fiber materials to refining automated fiber placement techniques, the future holds endless possibilities for innovation and discovery.


The synergy between fiber layups and BigRep 3D printed parts represents a significant leap forward in the realm of advanced manufacturing. By combining the precision and scalability of additive manufacturing with the strength and versatility of composite materials, engineers and designers can create bespoke components that meet the exacting demands of modern industry. As this technology continues to evolve, it promises to unlock new frontiers in design, performance, and sustainability, shaping the future of manufacturing for years to come.

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