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Berlin to go, english edition, 03/2017

  • Text
  • Digitization
  • Berlin
  • Digital
  • Innovation
  • Startup
  • Innovative
  • Printing
  • Fraunhofer

TALK OF THE TOWN THE

TALK OF THE TOWN THE FUTURE IS READY TO PRINT Text: Eva Scharmann Mini-organs and hands-on art – Innovative 3D printing from Berlin The market for 3D printing is growing rapidly, prices are sinking and technological progress continues unabated. By 2020, global sales involving 3D printing are set to double to .4 billion. Analysts are predicting a bright future for the manufacturing process in which 3D component pieces are constructed in layers. In Berlin, interdisciplinary teams are already working on the “revolution from the printer.” The following three examples drawn from the world of industry and R&D demonstrate what 3D printing can already achieve. Human organs in mini formats made in a 3D printer: sounds like science fiction, but it’s already a reality in Berlin. The biotech startup Cellbricks has developed a new technology that enables three-dimensional printing of complex biological materials. “We can, for example, print a miniature model of a liver with a 2.5 millimeter diameter as well as other 3D biological structures that simulate human tissue and organs,” notes Dr. Lutz Kloke, founder and CEO of Cellbricks. Cellbricks launched in Berlin in 2016 and not only developed a special 3D printer, but also tissue-specific “bioinks” that form the basis material of printed 3D cell cultures. For the research community, these living objects in 3D – which Cellbricks can print in high resolution and individually tailor to each client – are a revolution: “Until now, it was only possible to breed 2D cell cultures in Petri dishes in the lab,” explains Kloke, who received his doctorate at the Technische Universität (TU) Berlin in the Department of Medical Biotechnology. As Kloke notes, his successful start as a young entrepreneur with no venture capital backing was only possible thanks to an “Exist” subsidy and his excellent connections to the “highly unique Berlin biotech community.” While his first clients came mostly from the realm of academic research, industrial companies are now knocking on his door. Indeed, Cellbricks technology can significantly speed up exhaustive and expensive in-vitro tests: “If you can perform tests directly on a printed mini organ, you can receive information much faster on whether a new drug actually works to fight a certain disease,” explains the Cellbricks founder. His four-person team has yet another vision in mind: they want to use the biological material from the 3D printer in regenerative medicine as well. Kloke has no doubt that 3D printers will be able to generate new livers in only a few years. 3D printers are also winning points in XL formats, as demonstrated by a Berlin company called BigRep GmbH located in Kreuzberg. BigRep is currently building and distributing the largest serial 3D printer in the world, the “BigRep ONE,” which has a print volume of more than 1 m³. What was previously designed on a computer using CAD is now being made by the 3D printer 20

Photos: iStock.com /3dmentat, BigRep at the touch of a button: in a melting layer process known as “fused filament fabrication” (FFF), the printer can print entire furniture pieces and motorcycle bodies made of plastic filaments that are unrolled and liquefied by spools. Using thermoplastics and printing processes like FFF, it is possible to print complex 3D components that far surpass those created by other machines. Some common applications include prototype construction and the production of hard-to-find replacement parts. 3D technology, which was invented back in 1983, can also be used to make individual, custom-made prostheses. Two examples of the innovative strength of Berlin companies in the realm of additive manufacturing are Johann Dudek Maschinen- und Metallbau GmbH and India Dreusicke Berlin. BigRep GmbH is building the largest serial 3D printers in the world BigRep’s large-scale printer in Kreuzberg was originally designed by two artists looking to print large works of art. “Creativity is firmly anchored in our founding DNA,” notes CEO René Gurka, who got involved in BigRep in 2014 with a group of Business Angels and has since taken over management duties there. Together with 70 employees from twelve nations, Gurka is working to advance the tech start up and “engender a fundamental change in design, prototyping and industrial production from the ground up.” To achieve this goal, the company is already working on several projects with industry partners, R&D institutes and universities. For example, as part of a concept study in cooperation with the Kunsthochschule Braunschweig and Audi AG, they created a car seat with haptic and visual elements. After taking over the NowLab design studio in 2016, the Big-Rep campus expanded to 1,500 m² and added its own innovation department for material and application research. At the moment, the Berlin tech startup is experimenting with new printing materials. And, because 3D printers still work relatively slowly, they are working with the Dutch research organization TNO on a new printer that works like a conveyor belt; a turning base plate in the machine itself makes it possible to print many objects at the same time. A prototype has already been completed, and the new model is set to enter the market next year. 3D printing is also revolutionizing the art world: “3D printing is changing the way we experience exhibitions in museums,” notes Samuel Jerichow, a building engineer in the 3D lab at Berlin’s TU and the man responsible for the project that scans and reproduces pieces from partner museums using 3D technology. For example, objects from the TU lab, which is equipped with nine 3D printers, have made their way to the exhibition “Unveiled. Berlin and Its Monuments” at Zitadelle Spandau. Instead of “don’t touch,” the signs at that exhibition say “please touch!” Visitors are invited to touch 3D models of a statue of the Count of Schwerin and Mies van der Rohe’s Monument to the Revolution. These smaller yet built-to-scale objects have several advantages: “Children especially like to discover their environment using all of their senses. These tactile models allow us to get a hands-on sense of history,” says Jerichow. The scientists have learned a lot since launching the museum project in 2013: “For example, the objects we create in plaster printing have to be reworked by a professional painter, because otherwise the blind and visually impaired find them too raw to touch. For those who can see, it would be the equivalent of looking at a very coarse and grainy image,” explains Samuel Jerichow. Today, the 3D expertise of these Berliners is in high demand across the globe. The TU team is cooperating with a museum in Istanbul and a university in Jordan on a new way to present Islamic art in museums with the help of 3D technology. 21

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