Jan.31, 2014

As the 3D printing market grows in Japan the technology is being adopted by more and more small and medium enterprises around the country allowing businesses to provide customized products and services.


3D printing is at the center of the customized products made by Osaka-based company 3D Remind LLC which was established last August and makes 3D models of children's artwork and other beloved 2D images. The idea of family is central to the company's work which involves taking a drawing or photograph and turning it into a 3D printed object using digital data from the 2D image.

Advancements in scanning and 3D design software – along with improvements in printer and material quality – allow 3D Remind to provide customers with solid, three-dimensional renderings of their favorite 2D images. The company outsources most of the process to cut costs, so a small figure can be made for around 18,000 yen.

3D Remind's customer base is expanding as wedding centers and pet shops become aware of the services provided by the company according to one of the its founders Jiro Hiasa. Meanwhile, a proud father turned his 4-year-old daughter's drawing into this 3D printed plaster giraffe – which has got to be one of the more adorable objects produced by 3D Remind.

As 3D printers become less expensive and more accessible, medical applications for 3D printing are growing. In 2005, Nakashima Medical, a maker of medical devices from the city of Okayama, purchased a 3D printer for 100 million yen. The 3D printer is used to produce artificial joints which are customized to match the bone structure of each patient. The artificial joints are printed in titanium and created with digital data. This makes the joints strong, hypoallergenic, and more accurate than those made using traditional molding methods.

Better customer service

3D printing has been used to create rapid prototypes for decades, but today it is also being used by small and medium enterprises in Japan to improve customer service.

One example may be found in the city of Yokohama where a middle-sized company called List has used 3-D printing to make a scale model of a concept real estate development which the company outsourced for 6.5 million yen ($61,670). The model development was built on a 1-to-100 ratio scale, and houses were reproduced in exact detail. Customers could remove the roofs of the models to check out the interior down to the color of the walls. With the 3D printed models customers can visualize all aspects of their future home.


In Tachikawa, western Tokyo a construction firm called Asakawa Home is also using 3D printed prototypes to improve their services. 3-D blueprints for the model homes were made by the company Computer System Technology, a Sendai-based developer of architecture software. With customized home replicas, sales reps can show what the homes will look like in 3D – which creates a better experience for the customer.

Turning popular ideas into tangible objects

A popular example of 3D printing's influence on in Japan – at least internationally – the 3D printed sad Keanu Reeves doll which was turned into an action figure by the Japanese toy company idk.

At Tokyo's Fabcafe makerspace, which is owned by Loft Work Inc., young people gather to experiment with new ideas and create 3D versions of ideas. The space is furnished with digital fabrication tools – including a laser cutter and a 3D printer. Last year customers gathered there around Women's Day (March 14th) to create chocolate busts of themselves to give to their sweethearts. Activities like this make Fabcafe an attractive place for young people to gather.

According to Japanese research firm Seed Planning, Japan's 3D printing market reached to 9.3 billion yen in 2012, and it is expected it will reach to 15.5 billion yen in 2016. Business models and manufacturing systems will have to change to adapt to the possibilities offered by 3D printers.

Sources: Japantimes & Nikkei

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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eAfndwGspHVTeoHdRM wrote at 6/7/2014 1:46:20 AM:

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