Oct 4, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing technology is fantastic for consumer identity and individualism, it hasn’t yet been very good for the environment. While PLA is admittedly biodegradable, most other 3D printable materials aren’t while all take a lot of electricity to and other resources to manufacture. But what if you could have both? What if you could get a stylish and identity-creating 3D printed product that is also completely environmentally friendly? For that is, in a nutshell, what designers Frederic Pieck and Rob Hendrickx have created with their (partially) 3D printed and very stylish recyclable Monicker Watch.

This amazing Belgian design is truly a unique specimen in the world of stylish 3D printing, and it is therefore hardly surprising to have become one of the seven finalists in the Belgian Additive Design Challenge, of which the winners will be announced in a few weeks.

And fortunately, that competition encouraged the two designers to bring this fantastic concept (which they have carried around for a while) to life. The name itself says much about what the designers are trying to achieve in regards to modern consumerism. ‘Monicker means ‘a personal name’. And that’s exactly what we’re expecting a consumer to do. Because when you name something, you also take up responsibility for it. That’s precisely what’s lacking in modern day consumerism. We tend not to take any responsibility for the materials that are used in our products, let alone the products themselves,’ they write.

Of course, it is hard to know exactly what everything is made of and how they are made, but their approach fascinatingly tries to combine the luxury we seek and the awareness we need in a single product. The luxury is certainly there, as this is an absolutely gorgeous watch, but as Frederic Pieck explains, this is more than a watch that happened to be 3D printed. ‘For instance, a special chip keeps track of the most essential medical data of the wearer,’ Pieck says. ‘It’s not just a gadget, but something that can save lives.’

But it’s the materials that matter most. The watch section itself is 3D printed in alumide, a metal composite that is completely regrindable and can be used again and again and again, thus not straining the environment. The leather strap, meanwhile, comes from a biofarm and is produced with rain water and solar power. All other parts, save the clockwork, are also biodegradable. ‘Because every part of a Monicker is replaceable and all its materials are either fully reusable or completely recycable, it never truly dies. We’re eco-conscious that way,’ the designers say.

Furthermore, the Monicker has a production path that takes us away from familiar mass-production. ‘. We started by rethinking manufacturing. Instead of producing in bulk, every Monicker is made on demand. Production is pretty straightforward and completely transparant. One purchase means an order for a casing gets sent to the 3D printer. The material used for printing, alumide, is fully regrindable and can be used again and again to accommodate your changing preferences,’ they say. ‘And if you own a 3D printer or are part of a local 3D hub, you can easily repair any defects. There are no complex repair and transportation procedures to go through.’

Unfortunately, the Monicker watch is currently still a prototype, and there are no known plans for taking this watch into production. However, if it does well in the making competition, who knows what would happen? The watch industry could definitely benefit from a bit of environmentally friendly competition.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications





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Sam wrote at 10/5/2015 5:42:36 AM:

That's a seriously impressive timepiece. Just a shame it isn't yet doable on "mass market" home-use 3D printers. Nonetheless, it's great to see 3D printing being used on these unique blends of art and technology. Sam

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