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Earlier this month, the design world gathered in Essen, Germany for the presentation of the prestigious Red Dot Award. The 40-strong Red Dot expert jury evaluated a total of 4,815 submissions from 53 countries. And this year, among the winning products was Arburg's Freeformer, which, according to the jury statement, "impresses with a gentle design that is distinguished by radiused edges and flush surfaces," through which it which "definitely stands out from the 3D printers in the market."

Karen Laird

July 21, 2014

2 Min Read
Arburg’s Freeformer captures “Red Dot Award 2014” design prize

It's the first time that an Arburg product has won this coveted international design prize. Herbert Kraibühler, the company's former Managing Director Technology & Engineering who conceived and oversaw the development of the Freeformer throughout the entire 10 years of the project, said the award reflected the increasing value attached to good industrial design. "As well as quality and functionality, a machine's design is becoming increasingly important in the purchasing decision," he commented.

In the Freeformer, introduced at last year's K Show in Dusseldorf, all three aspects are melded into a unique 'freeforming', a.k.a. 3d printing, machine. All that the Freeformer requires are a power socket, 3D CAD data and standard granulate. As with injection molding, the plastic granulate is first melted in a plasticizing cylinder. A special nozzle then applies the droplets layer-by-layer onto a component carrier with three or five axes by means of high-frequency piezo technology. A three-dimensional component is built up layer by layer, with no dust or emissions being generated - so no extraction units are needed.

German studio Design Tech was the creative brain behind the design of the Freeformer. The designers' brief included paying particular attention to the recognizability, future sustainability and uniqueness of the Freeformer, as well as aesthetics and functionality, said Arburg. If the Red Dot Award is anything to go by, they have succeeded spectacularly.

The design idea centers on optimum functionality, with good access to the workspace, quick refilling of source materials from the side of the machine, easy servicing and easy transport. The design features an easily accessible construction chamber with pivoting glass front, easy operation options and a foldout PC with multi- touch screen mounted on the side. The touchscreen panel, which is flush with the side of the machine when not in use, can be swiveled towards the front, bringing display and workspace into the user's field of vision. The high-visibility on/off switch also functions as an emergency-stop switch.

Clear, soft lines reminiscent of modern telecommunication devices characterize the printer casing design. Dimensioned to fit smoothly through standard doorframes, the machine can be used on shop floors, but is also extremely suitable for use in office and laboratory settings. 

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