3D printing companies every designer should know
While the technology may still seem like science fiction to some, 3D printing was invented as a way to prototype parts quickly and affordably, and interior design brands have taken advantage of this ability to over the past decade. As technology has progressed, it has moved from a complementary skill to a full-fledged profession, which requires as much training and expertise as trades such as cabinetmaking or metallurgy.
“Or [3D printing] started out in its early days was desktop printers, so people think it’s just a larger-scale version of that, ”explains Richard unterthiner, design director at EDG, a New York-based architecture and engineering firm. “They think you’re wrong on the computer, print one thing and voila. But there is so much in there. The software components, all the moving parts, when you increase that there are nuances at every step.
EDG has been experimenting with large-scale 3D printing for almost a decade, but they are not alone at the cutting edge of technology. Today, dozens of design companies around the world are creating innovative ways to take 3D printing beyond the table for real architectural and interior solutions that are durable, scalable, and stylish.
There are many ways for designers to benefit from this technology. For starters, when product creation is done by a machine, you can design amazingly complex patterns, geometries and shapes at no additional cost, and easily and infinitely change the design. The process also condenses the design-to-launch timeline of custom parts, as well as the additive manufacturing process, meaning it only uses the amount of material needed to create the product, which is much more durable than traditional crafts.
Here are four innovative 3D printing studios that designers should know about.
“What we do is really at the confluence of software, design, engineering and 3D printing,” says Jean Meyer, founder of EDG. The company does a lot of historical preservation work and has devised a way to create intricate molds to replicate and repair facade ornamentation, and even print different facade pieces. It is a lightweight and affordable alternative to traditional CNC milling or carving that allows even new buildings to add an ornate facade at a reasonable price.
Courtesy of EDG
Volume and speed have been the biggest hurdles in terms of 3D printed facades for EDG (or any company), but they recently started a ‘print farm’ in Queens with 10-15 large 3D printers. scale that will allow them to scale the process. They’ve made furniture like sculptural tables and cocoon-shaped pendant lights, but the focus is on interior wall panels, which they can now print thousands of square feet of per month.
The printing lab is part of 3D synthesis, an offshoot of EDG dedicated to 3D printing. Powered by artificial intelligence, Synthesis creates an endless number of designs based on parameters such as size, color, texture, shape, density, entered by the designer. You can see in real time how adjustments to any element impact the final look, allowing for quick iteration. “Rather than someone coming up with just one design, this allows for fortuitous moments where the design works wonderfully just because we provide that iteration process,” says Meyer.
EDG mainly prints with a variety of thermal plastics, which can be further enhanced with finishes. An installation in the ultra-luxurious 432 Park condo tower in Manhattan received 14 coats of high-gloss gold metallic paint. “He’s got such depth, it’s amazing when the light hits him,” says Unterthiner. “Even in the shadows he has such a glow.”
Based in Amsterdam Current presents itself as a company “by designers, for designers”. It was founded by the same architects who formed the DUS architectural firm, Hans Vermeulen and Hedwig Heinsman. They started experimenting with large-scale 3D printing in 2011 and launched Aectual in 2017 to produce bespoke 3D printed solutions for designers’ projects.
Aectual creates geometric facades and interior wall panels, lace privacy screens and sunshades, and patterned terrazzo floors for architecture and design clients including Zaha Hadid Architects and Patricia Urquiola Studio . A recent collaboration with Gramazio Kohler Research resulted in an acoustically diffusing wall panel system designed to reduce noise and reverberation.
Courtesy of Michael Lyrenmann
The company also operates a line of 3D printed home furniture for consumers, such as planters, shelving, and room dividers. “Our mission is to bring home-made and tailor-made solutions to the masses,” Heinsman explains. “It will take time, but we are already more affordable than a tailor-made solution by a carpenter. We are not yet in total mass production [price] level. ”(Indeed, the cheapest piece, a totem planter that can be nearly 6 feet tall, costs $ 655.)
3D printing is inherently sustainable, but Aectual takes it one step further, using 100% recycled plastic waste or bioplastics made from vegetable oils instead of new synthetic plastics. They also work on a 100% circular production system, in which they take back a product after use, shred the material and reuse it to print new products.
“The pieces are so beautiful you could keep them forever, but the reality is that in retail the displays change so frequently,” Heinsman explains. “So we recognize that it can be turned into something else without harming the environment. “
Another company that strives to make 3D printing even more sustainable is Forest, a new company that uses wood waste to print high-end wood products. Co-founder Virginia San Fratello, chairman of the design department at San Jose State University, explains that the idea for the process came about during a discussion about sustainable materials with two colleagues, a pioneer of ceramic 3D printing Andrew Jeffery and University of California, Berkeley, chair of the department of architecture Ronald rael, with whom San Fratello founded the 3D printing company Emerging Objects.
“We’ve all been developing materials for 3D printing for a number of years, but felt like it was time to question the ethics of plastic,” says San Fratello. They decided to focus on 3D printing with sawdust, an abundant byproduct of every furniture company, lumber yard, and carpentry shop that would typically be directed to the landfill or burnt, releasing carbon dioxide. carbon.
Courtesy of Forust
Forust obtains its sawdust from a plant near its manufacturing center in Massachusetts, where five high-speed printers are in use. The printing process can replicate the grain of a variety of wood types, including oak, teak, and walnut, as well as rare and exotic species, and the composite construction makes this an extremely durable end product.
The business was just launched in May, and Forust has already been used by designers to make planter tiles, light fixtures, and wood blocks. Swiss designer Yves Béhar has created an exclusive collection of ready-to-buy tableware with Forust, including a bowl, platters and basket, which range in price from $ 14 to $ 52.
3D printed furniture is nothing new – you can find quite a few pieces on 1stDibs – but French luxury brand Roche Bobois is rethinking the design process with the coral table through Antoine Fritsch and Vivien Durisotti. The shape and texture of the concrete table base can be fully customized using a exclusive application of the design team.
The configurator allows consumers to see in real time what the adjustments will look like. Personalization is the norm for high-end furniture, but the process is rarely so transparent or democratic. A finalized design receives a unique 23-digit code that is sent to a printer closest to the end consumer to reduce material transport.
Courtesy of Roche Bobois
The Corail table starts at around $ 11,735 and offers five different tempered glass top options, ranging from a 63-inch circle to a 9-by-4-foot rectangle. The base only takes 30 minutes to print and 10 days to dry. Since its launch in May, more than 120 tables have been made and although it is currently the only 3D printed piece of furniture on offer, a Roche Bobois spokesperson noted that the brand was ready to expand the collection to include ‘to come up.
Homepage image: Gold EDG panel of the 432 Park Avenue residential tower in Manhattan | Courtesy of EDG