3D printing already changing design world, with more to come
Print everything from a customized skull vase to a model of a sofa at the push of a button
No one would disagree that technology is changing the world, and the 3D printer is certainly changing the design world. I found one recently at a trade show in New York that printed a chess piece the size of my palm in 30 minutes. If you wanted a new chess set, these printers bring “shopping online” to a whole new level, and for $2,700, this, in my opinion, is a game changer.
Imagine you have a faucet that starts to leak. A new fitting or washer will fix it, but you need to get out to the hardware store and buy it. There are hundreds from which to choose, so with fingers crossed you hopefully buy the right thing. It could be the right piece but for a different brand.
If only you could use your cellphone to scan a bar code somewhere on the faucet and be told exactly what to get or taken to a website where you could download exactly what you need and print it.
More and more you will find that replacement parts will be printable, and that will change our relationship to hardware stores and shopping in general.
Download a replacement part, send it to the 3D printer, and in 15 minutes you’ll have that leak repaired.
Perhaps you need a new colander for the kitchen? No problem, as long as you have the necessary materials and don’t mind waiting for it to print.
However the technology is improving all the time, and you can reasonably expect that printing will get faster and faster. Remember the dot matrix printer? The laser printer gets your three-colour proposal printed in a fraction of the time. The same principle will apply to 3D printers.
Soon you will be able to customize product to suit your needs. Perhaps you only ever buy a half dozen eggs, so that egg holder for a dozen doesn’t work for you. Or you could print a vase to hold the flowers you just received, and you could do it in details that you created. You might prefer one covered in skulls as opposed to daisies.
The most intricate details can be added to the interior of a light bulb, by printing, painting and using LED technology. You could print your sectional sofa in 3D to be sure that you’re satisfied with all of your modifications before you pay to have the sofa custom manufactured.
The design community will be able to print anything to see how it works before we build it. Thingiverse, the online design community for MakerBot, a Brooklyn-based maker of 3D printers, has let early adopters download more than 700,000 files, free of charge, and print products such as chess pieces or honeycomb-patterned vases.
And 3D printing has been popular with industrial design firms for years. Getting it right before they go into mass production is a huge money saver.
Once in production, the economy of scale allows product to be sold to the mass market at a reasonable price.
I recall a conversation with a friend who works in the auto industry. Apparently it takes several million dollars to complete the first car in a 2016 model with only slight alterations from the 2015 model. The concept of economy of scale changes with this new technology.
You can customize that vase or light or wastebasket to fit your space perfectly without altering the price. You may be in love with a light fixture that’s a little too big for your space. A custom order would significantly increase the costs, but printing it smaller requires an alteration to the numerical values in the AutoCAD file only; hit print and voila.
Soon, the only thing between you and your home’s design will be your imagination and a 3D printer!
A chandelier inside a light bulb is created using 3D printing and LED lighting
Glen Peloso is a design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Restaurant Makeover. For further info: www.glenpelosointeriors.com.