At Milan's annual April design fair this year, machines and digital production take over the stage. Dirk Vander Kooij's industrial robot was printing out chairs, Markus Keyser's Solar Sinter machine were converting sand into 3D objects, visitors were customizing computer models of products to create objects with their favorite style and get printed.
Since designers have got access to digital fabrication and machinery like robotics and 3D printers, the world has been led into the new age of industrial design.
3D Printing allows designer to make basically anything they can design in 3D. Then instead of contacting manufacturers in the Far East, designers can use local FabLab to print out prototypes of their design or upload design files to online services such as Shapeways, Ponoko or Sculpteo. Or they can simply purchase their own 3D printers and machinery.
Not only the cost of 3D printer has declined but the whole manufacturing process is much quicker. Using 3D printing, CAD design can be converted to tangible models in some hours. A design can be printed on site in front of design team and potential customers and can be altered at an early stage of designing process. The ability to create small-scale models before full scale production saves the business thousands dollars.
"It can lead to a lot," said Paola Antonelli, senior design curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "First of all, there's an underpinning of sustainability. The idea that you can make things yourself, that you can bring the production manufacturing tools closer to the final user, makes it so that you can produce what you need, at the time that you need it. Secondly, it's a boost to creativity. Today you can design a plastic chair which, once upon a time, 30 years ago, required an investment of, like, $50,000 dollars for the moulds because injection moulding was very expensive."
"The implications of these technologies are profound, as their adaptability and affordability mean that items can be manufactured anywhere, in relatively small quantities, with each item being customised for the consumer." said Joseph Grima, editor-in-chief of Domus magazine and the curator of the show.
3D printing has been existed almost 30 years, but it has only become commonplace in product design a few years ago. There have been many efforts in developing less expensive 3D printers for individual users and the popularity of the technology has grown considerably. One day consumers may be able to print any products direct from a design file - the future will be changed, and description of shopping, security, privacy, intellectual property etc need to be redefined.
You may like to read the aricle Technology and Design: the digital industrial revolution here.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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