Sep 8, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years 3D printing has emerged as a fantastic pioneering technology to reinvent existing objects from cars to clothing, but a few months ago we were surprised by a particularly innovative 3D printed household tool: an air conditioner. At the China Expo in March 2015, the Haier Group unveiled a remarkable and very stylish 3D printed air conditioner, the first of its kind in the world. But the Chinese multinational is now back for more, and unveiled their second 3D printed air conditioner at the German IFA exhibition last week, a standing machine with a gorgeous pattern inspired by fish scales.

To refresh your memories, Haier is a Chinese multinational and giant of the consumer electronics and home appliances industry, who made quite a splash back in March. As Haier revealed at the World Expo, their air conditioner was very different from typical 3D printed concept products. Upon purchasing its already fully programmed and simply needs to be installed and used. It’s cooling and heating systems are fully functional, and even its LCD display is 3D printed. Meanwhile, they’ve also had enough time to think about its appearance, giving it a streamlined 3D wave, and a refreshing color scheme that transitions from white to blue.

This latest edition unveiled at the annual German IFA show on 4 September takes those some principles a bit further. Not only is the design much more improved; as you can see it has been turned into a standing, sleek and gorgeous machine that would look good in every house. But unlike in its predecessor, the board providing the ventilation function is now also 3D printed.

So how does it function? When turned off, the front panel is closed with a distinct hexagon texture visible on its surface. When turned on, these miniature panels open up and display a completely different pattern, depending on the strength of the wind chosen by the user. ‘We have designed thousands of structures inside the air conditioner, so when the front panel is open, it could display a dynamic wind effects,’ the Haier spokesman present explained to the visitors. 'When the wind direction changes, the panel will change, like the waves.’

This cool pattern, which has drawn inspiration from fish scales for its appearance, and its opening and closing function was very well received by onlookers. One visitor referred to the effect as something straight out of science fiction, emanating a fantastic sense of science and technology. A present Haier official revealed that the size and shape of the opening on the front panel can be used by users to judge the wind’s direction and strength during use. The gradient lamp on the side of the air conditioner is used to indicate that the machine is in use, which the manufacturers feel adds a new interactive experience to the entire setup.

As they further reveal, 3D printing technology has been used in every aspect of this fantastic looking Haier air conditioner. One present expert said that 3D printing was not just confined to the visible and stylish components of the machine, which is typically the case. He further added that a large portion of the functional and structural components were also 3D printed, something of which Haier is particularly proud. They are certain that 3D printing offers them a big advantage within the air conditioner industry, suggesting that this will also be used in future commercial products and even on other home appliances.

Looking even further forward, the idea is that in the future this technology can be used to change the role of us, the customers, in the home appliance industry. Haier aims to turn users of air conditioners from passive recipients of standardized products into designers and makers involved throughout the design and production process. Now that would definitely be a 3D printing revolution.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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