Monarch stool (left) and ipod cover (right) designed by Janne Kyttänen for Freedom Of Creation

Diamond chair by Nendo, as seen at

Kickboard for Olympic swimmer Daniel Fogg by Creative studio JAM (left) The permanent kickboard sculpture created by 3D scanning (right)

The iMake designed by Mark Frauenfelde(left)The Moleculaire 3D food printer by Nico Kläber(right)

UCODO Democratisation of personal objects

Freedom of Creation talent project(left) Brian Garret for Freedom of Creation FOC Talent project(right)

Jewelco interactive website concept

Jewelco interactive website concept

3D print textile Ipod bag by Freedom for Creation(left)Children's shoes made with rapid prototyping 3D printer by Adrian Bowyer, University of Bath(right)

Marloes ten Bhömer(left) Kerry Luft(right)

The new industrial revolution:3D printing

3rd March 2010

3D printing and rapid prototyping have received much attention in recent years. Now a new generation of companies are experimenting with how the technology can be applied in a commercial context.

Key themes

.The first steps toward mass-customisation are happening now, by offering co-design and co-creation. As these gather momentum, they will impact on how consumers view products and future retailing

.Products can be modified in real-time. Consumers can change the form, colour and material of a product in their own homes, purchase it when they are ready and have it delivered within weeks

.Designs and products can be adapted on every level as new information and needs emerge Using the internet to transfer data and design makes global business possible even for small companies

.Natural resources are further preserved by eliminating pre-manufactured components Consumers will take more control of product and will therefore be more attached to it

.It's not just about co-design. Think about how 3D printing challenges the physical conventions of design

New possibilities at retail

3D printing is a type of rapid manufacturing technology. It has the potential to enable consumers to print everything from food to domestic objects, textiles to shoes.
As customers demand a greater freedom of choice, designers and brands are faced with new challenges in their product offerings. Such technologies offer product modification in terms of colour, form and materials. This opens up an entirely new relationship of codesign between the customer and the designer/brand.
This technology is beginning to redefine the roles of the retailer and designer. Print or fab labs (short for fabrication laboratories) are set to become new retail outlets. There consumers can customise objects to their specification and will be able to visit websites to download new products to print themselves.
The technology is environmentally responsible, with no material waste. With no need to carry stock or ship parts, each product has a very low carbon footprint.

Connected thinking

3D printing currently manufactures products by building up layers of plastic, metal and nylon powder - it is already capable of printing moving parts.
The first generation of companies to make serious use of technology is emerging now. One such example is Fab Lab, a fabrication laboratory workspace that uses rapid prototyping machines. The concept, which originated in Amsterdam, was created in collaboration with the Media Laboratory at MIT.
Fab Labs now has 35 outposts, including a location planned in Manchester. Each Fab Lab shares core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. The project aims to develop programmable molecular assemblers that can make almost anything.

Connected globally the Fab Labs are open source that enable users within the network to brainstorm and learn from each other. They have seen Norwegian shepherds create mobile phones to track sheep, while a South African government and business-backed project is creating simple $10 internet-ready computers that connect to televisions.

Democratic design development

Another company reaching out to consumers directly is London-based Digital Forming/UCOD. Due for launch early 2010, the company aims to offer mass-customisation. It provides customers with ready- made designs that they can adapt and modify before being produced by 3D printing.
Another company already using 3D printing exploring the potential of co-design is Toronto-based interiors retailer Umbra. Housed within the brand's flagship store is a rapid prototyping machine. The technology enables customers to interact with Umbra's designers, working on new products and prototypes designed on 3D software and produced with printers.

The next step for co-design

Taking a different stance is Peter Hermans a recent graduate from the Technical University, Eindhoven. His graduation project - developed in collaboration with Freedom of Creation - suggests taking the idea of mass-customisation and co-design to the next level.
Instead of enabling the cusmtomer to edit an existing design, Hermans' developed the concept of jewellery company Jewelco, which offers customers the tools to interact with a professional jewellery designer and co-design a completely new and unique product.

Future Impact

Philip Delamore, director of the digital fashion studio at London College of Fashion, thinks such technologies will have a huge impact on the future of design and manufacturing.
Delamore believes that as student graduates are exposed to these technologies, they will reject off-the- shelf components and begin to pushthe design industry to invest. With the ability to pass designs around the world digitally as data, points of contact between design and manufacture will change dramatically.
Founder of Freedom of Creation Janne Kyttänen agrees: "At Freedom of Creation we believe in a future where data is the design product and where products are distributed in the same way images and music travel through the internet today."

Shoe designers Marloes ten Bhömer and Kerry Luft are two designers using these technologies to push the boundaries of design. Ten Bhömer's rotation-mould shoes showcase via a custom-designed mechanism shapes not possible to be reached though traditional processes. Luft has created impossible heels for her shoes from rapid-prototyped titanium.
The work of both designers shows how the potential of 3D printing reaches beyond customer inclusion to challenge and extend the possibilties of product design.
© WGSN 2010