As some of you know, we’ve been banging on about stereo-lithography, or 3D printing, for a long time now which is why we picked up on a new article in Wired that suggests that 3-D Printers will redefine Industrial Design. 3D printers normally print objects by printing successive layers to build a three-dimensional object. Looking at how such a printer is used by folks like PSFK buddies Frog Design, Wired argues that we’re witnessing a design revolution…

As some of you know, we’ve been banging on about stereo-lithography, or 3D printing, for a long time now which is why we picked up on a new article in Wired that suggests that 3-D Printers will redefine Industrial Design. 3D printers normally print objects by printing successive layers to build a three-dimensional object. Looking at how such a printer is used by folks like PSFK buddies Frog Design, Wired argues that we’re witnessing a design revolution:

As the technology has evolved, 3-D printers are now capable of printing out fully functional finished products. For example, according to [Scott Summit, the co-founder of San Francisco-based industrial design firm Summit ID], battleships and aircraft carriers now make extensive use of selective laser sintering (SLS) printers, which can “print out” materials like titanium, cobalt chromium and polyamide, to fabricate spare parts on the spot instead of carrying huge warehouses full of replacements.

…The printer at Frog Design, which is used for more traditional modeling purposes, uses two materials: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic and industrial-strength glue. The glue is what enables the machine to build hollow or concave objects without letting them collapse in on themselves.

These rapid prototyping printers are bringing an entirely very new mentality to design, where the user becomes a key participant in the creation of the product. Summit and Hebenstreit both cite hearing aids as one example of this new approach.

“They stick some clay in your ear, it takes the shape of your ear, then they 3-D laser scan that and it gets fabricated by a 3-D printer,” Summit explains. “It’s kind of co-designed by your ear — by your personal geometry.”

3-D Printers Redefine Industrial Design

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