I believe we are approaching the tipping point of 3D printing. Additive manufacturing (another term for 3D printing) has been in the manufacturing industry for almost 30 years. It is used mainly for creating prototype for industrial use. The high cost and inefficiency have been the barriers limiting the application in producing finished products until recently; improvement in technology enables the commercialization of 3D printing.
Send to Print/ Print to Send is an exhibition held by Aram Gallery in London, showing how designers and companies trying to use this hot technology. Both prototypes and finished products examples across different sectors were displayed in the gallery.
As seen in the exhibition, 3D printing is a great tool for product designer to fabricate intricate structures. For example, Michael Eden’s Large Oval Yellow Bloom is a design based on early Wedgwood tureen, but produced in a way that conventional ceramic techniques cannot achieve.
This technology also means a new era of customization. In the exhibition, there are a series of lemon squeezer in different forms produced by Assa Ashuach in 2010. Those are the first pieces in their co-designed objects collection. Users can change the pre-designed lemon squeezer within certain boundaries in a software. This implies that product design in the future will allow a high level of personalization. Brands and designers will be able to interact with their customers in a brand new way.
There are also some interesting projects in the exhibition. Markus Kayser’s glass objects are experiment of merging natural energy/ materials with high-tech 3D printing. Chloë McCormick and Nicholas O’Donnell-Hoare’s tapestry spectacle is an exploration of textile and technology.