Products That Challenge 3D Printing’s Less-Than-Ideal Associations
Breaking the stigma of plastic prints with a new kind of manufacturing
We’ve all seen enough 3D-printed twisty shapes and plastic skulls by now to know that the digital fabrication technology hasn’t yet revolutionized product design and manufacturing. There’s the perception that 3D prints are commonly made of low-quality plastic and lack a refined finish. Kwambio is a startup that is challenging the cheap associations of 3D printing by offering heirloom quality products created by independent designers collaborating with consumers.
They debuted their first collection of home accessories and jewelry in New York City.
Vlad Usov, a co-founder of Kwambio said he saw a 3D printer in action for the first time three years ago and was amazed by the technology. The idea to start the company centered around creating products that consumers could customize to meet their needs and tastes. A roster of designers were assembled and pieces were commissioned to be sold by Kwambio through an on-demand manufacturing process. Usov said other than potentially some limited editions, there won’t ever be any pre-made stock of Kwambio goods. 3D printing has made that possible.
Kwambio’s creative director Chad Phillips, former director of retail at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum as well as stints at Moss and Kid Robot, said “we didn’t want anyone to look at these products and think they were 3D printed.” To solve that issue, Kwambio worked with designers to create products in ceramic and metal that could be digitally made.
Customers get a choice of sizes and finishes for the products currently available. But the company is exploring ways in which people will have the ability to alter the shape as well. Kwambio previewed several products still in development, one of which is a small vase series that shows the application of ‘Filters’ on a basic shape. Kwambio is transposing a common function of photo apps like Instagram to alter images into changing the look of an object based on personal taste.
Usov said that the Kwambio product line is part of their focus and they intend to open a new ceramic manufacturing facility soon. In addition, they will offer a white label portal to brands or designers looking to offer their own on-demand 3D-printed products. Usov said the platform aims take the technical headaches out of product development and manufacturing for designers looking to get their ideas to market.
(Diamond Ring by BYAMT)
(Box by Daniel Michalik)
(Loop Vase by Andrew Sack)
Photos: Dave Pinter
(Lead Image: Hollow Rabat Stack by Jim Drain)