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Infinity - Math Art By Dizingof. Available on Ponoko.
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Spiral Cuff, Design by Nervous System. Available direct or via Shapeways.
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Butterfly hat, DESIGNER Dario Scapitta. Available on i.materialise.
It is hard to repudiate the “wow” factor of 3D printing. I am lucky enough to see people comprehend it for the first time on a fairly regular basis, and, without exception, it’s absolutely the most rewarding part of working in this industry.
It’s funny really, but in general, people are not naturally curious about how things are made, it’s pretty much taken for granted and holds no real appeal. In my experience however, 3D printing bucks this trend, in particular with some of the more complex and intricate products that can ONLY be produced by 3D printing, which invite curiosity from even the most passive individuals.
This fact alone attracts people to the concept of 3D printing and the products that it is capable of producing. The creative design sector is at the forefront of capitalizing on this with increasing numbers of highly artistic individuals, captivated by the benefits of 3D printing (and working around the limitations) designing specifically for the process. As the 3D printing processes have continued to evolve and become more cost-effective, these designers continue to produce some glorious collections of original, attractive and distinctive products that are available to the consumer, mostly via online retail outlets.
Many of these products, IMHO, are gorgeous in their own right, the fact that they have been 3D printed adds an extra dimension — an appealing reason to purchase that differentiates from traditional alternatives. I know this is based on novelty value, particularly at the moment, and this is likely to change as uptake continues to increase. However, there is also the customization factor to take into account. Offering the consumer the ability to quickly and easily determine the aesthetics of their purchase, at the point of sale, is a USP of 3D printing that adds little or no extra cost to the process.
So where can you peruse — and easily purchase — these marvelous 3D printed consumer products I am talking about?
Always happy to help, here is a round-up of the 3D Print galleries that host multiple collections by many different designers — all available to the consumer via a simple interface — if you can use Ebay, you can use these!
I was also researching independent retail brands that have built a business model around 3D printing. These are even fewer in number, but inspiring and pioneering:
As far as I am aware, there is still only one dedicated physical retail outlet for 3D printed products — the .MGX store opened in 2010 in Brussels. And just yesterday, I heard about the first UK-based ‘walk-in’ 3D print shop — The Color Company in London.
What this exhaustive (I think!) list does highlight is that the number of commercial organizations offering consumer facing retail services is still very limited — and there is room for immense growth. Personally I think this is still to do with low levels of consumer awareness, supply and demand. As demand increases, there will increasing numbers of this type of business model.
Anyway the images show a couple of my personal favourites. Be sure to point me to some of yours!