Feb 23, 2016 | By Bryn Huntpalmer

If you’re already dialed into the 3D printing world, you don’t need to be told about all the extraordinary ways the technology is being used—you already know about the bionic limbs and Disney’s robot uprising, just to name a few. But the expansion of ink materials, combined with the dropping price of 3D printers will make 3D printing a household game as well, enacting some fabulous changes in our day-to-day lives.

In fact, well-known designers, with the help of communal platforms like Shapeways and Thingiverse, are already pushing forward a design revolution that will greatly shape the kinds of furniture and fixtures we have in our homes—as well as shaking up traditional production and consumer-provider relationships. Here are some of the ways that 3D printing may epically alter home decor:

1. 3D printing will increasingly be used for functional pieces

While vases, sculptures, and other purely decorative items are natural candidates for 3D printing’s limitless design, we were interested to discover that some highly-functional household goods had already made their way to the printer as well, such as American Standard’s 3D printed DXV faucets. They’re made using direct-metal laser sintering—metal powder that is fused into tiny, near-invisible bands that push water into the sink, like a technological magic trick. As 3D printing becomes more popularly used, we anticipate the release of more items that combine practicality with aesthetics.

2. 3D printing makes for more intelligent seating

There’s nothing more annoying than dragging around a heavy couch to accommodate a large party or set of houseguests. Artist Janne Kyttanen solved that issue when she 3D printed a geometric mesh sofa that can be lifted with one hand—weighing in at 5.6 pounds, it’s just slightly heavier than a bag of sugar. Meanwhile, Dutch 3D designer Lilian Van Daal was so disgusted by the waste involved in traditional seating manufacturing that she set out to create her own model, inspired by natural cellular structures. The result? A seat that molds to fit your own, ahem, cushioning. With designs like these surfacing, we predict that 3D printed furniture will become even more ergonomic—and environmental.

3. 3D printing could alter the face of cabinetry—and prefab production

Currently, cabinetmakers are limited by traditional manufacturing techniques, so mouldings and paneling designs are standardized into a small handful of options. But among the benefits of 3D printing is that there are no such restrictions on personalization—3D printed objects can be pretty easily customized to accommodate the taste of the end-user. This is most notably demonstrated by design firm BD Barcelona’s Cabinet Tout va Bien—a custom 3D mural, originally pulled from a hand drawing on a whiteboard, adorns the panels of their multi-tiered storage unit. Another beautiful example is Stelios Mousarris' 3D printed Wave City coffee table. Across various industries, the rise of 3D printing will increasingly push manufacturers to digitalize machinery and localize production centers, meaning increased selection and better delivery times for customers.

4. 3D printing won’t be confined to the indoors

If at first the challenge facing the 3D printing community was materials, that obstacle has been nearly obliterated, as evidenced by the organic planters developed by project Print Green. The ink, a mixture of soil, seeds, and water, can be used form to print terra firma in a variety of patterns and shapes. The outdoor applications are obvious, and accordingly, the American Society of Landscaping Architects predicts that 3D printing will vastly change how landscapers run their businesses, as well. Again, homeowners will benefit in terms of selection—with a 3D printer in tow, pavers, walls, and pottery can be sampled live, on the fly, rather than resorting virtual models or drawings. Additionally, printed products can be easily customized to adapt to a space, which could reduce waste from cutting materials.

5. 3D printing will precede the rise of biomimicry in home design

Trend hunters be advised. Like never before, 3D printing has made possible the replication of naturally-inspired forms, a concept known in the design world as biomimicry. While biomimicry has obvious aesthetic benefits (who wouldn’t want a 3D printed lamp that blossoms like tulip or one that shines through the darkness like a bioluminescent sea anemone?), natural shapes also possess a structural integrity previously unmatched by man made construction. For instance, Janine Beyus—one of the founders of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, a design consulting and educational group—says that a single seashell is much stronger than factory-fired ceramics, because the structure is formed to distribute stress rather than resist it. Expect to see organically-inspired forms on the rise as 3D printing expands.

6. 3D printing will draw inspiration from all the senses

Every day the 3D printing community yields another technological revelation—but none floored us so much as the Solid Vibrations project from Olivier van Herpt. The exhibit features ceramic pieces that take their shape from sound waves—a speaker mounted below the printer provides the vibrations, giving the works a stunning, unique and, dare we say, vibrant texture. Previously, we’d also learned about John Edmark’s animated sculptural 3D printed Blooms, another project that takes shape using an untraditional process. These pieces appear to “blossom” when spun on a turntable under a strobe light (go watch the video—it must be seen to be believed). With 3D printing freeing small-scale inventors and artists to let their imaginations run wild, we expect to see more home goods produced by incorporating unusual sensory elements. What other fantastic pieces will local creators come up with? No predictions there—it remains to be seen.


About the Writer:

Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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