3D printing extracts a three-dimensional object from its digital data into its physical structure in real-time.
A technology dating back to the 1980s, this system continues to revolutionize how professionals play with and customize intricate designs in furniture, space, lighting, and decor.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing’s utilitarian impact can’t be denied, especially in the design and architecture industries.
But First, How did 3D Printing Start?
According to BCN3D, 3D printing can be traced back to Japanese inventor Hideo Kodama of the early 1980s. Kodama developed a prototyping system where he polymerized photosensitive resin with UV light. Although he is now credited as the first inventor of this process (considered an early version of the modern Stereolithography), he could not file a patent for his technology.
BCN3D also summarizes that years later, French researchers were seeking this same technology but wanted to use a laser to cure liquid monomers (instead of resin) into solids, but like Kodama, were unable to file a patent.
Finally, Charles Hull, a furniture builder who set out to efficiently create custom parts, developed 3D models by curing photosensitive resin layer by layer, officially filing the first patent for Stereolithography (SLA).
Carl Deckard also filed a patent for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology, which fuses powders instead of liquids or resins.
Famous Examples of 3D Printing in Interior Design and Architecture
Around the world, 3D printing continues to make headway in design. To see for yourself, take a look at the following projects below:
Juice Bar at Loft Flagship Store | DUS Architects
Image: The Juice Bar in the Loft store Ginza, Tokyo | designed by DUS Architects
Japanese department store Loft’s Flagship Building in Ginza, Tokyo, showcases interior design features exclusively made from 3D printed furniture designs. Their space explores a mix of 3D printing, traditional materials, and novel elements.
Images provided by Studio Nagami | Nital Lamp | Designed by Manuel Jimenez Garcia for Nogami
Nagami aims to design and digitally fabricate pieces in a new technological era. Their mission is to create groundbreaking projects by pushing the limits of imagination to unseen domains.
3D Printed Lamps | Architects: LPJacques
Image: Land table lamp from the Lacelamps Collection | Designed by Linlin & Pierre-Yves Jacques
LPJacques aimed to design lighting that infused the ambiance of Paris, introducing beautiful designs like their Lacelamps using 3D printing.
Advantages of 3D Printing
When you see examples of 3D printing, it’s easy to see that the possibilities are limitless. And what makes 3D printing especially advantageous is:
You don’t need a lot of space.
The 3D printing process reduces operating costs and space requirements compared to traditional manufacturing, which requires storage and square footage for stocking inventory.
You Minimize Waste
Since you only need materials to produce your specific project, there is minimal or no wastage compared to conventional methods in subtractive manufacturing. Instead of cutting pieces from large (many times, non-recyclable) materials, 3D printing allows you to create a product layer by layer. This reduces the number of materials needed.
Some Aspects of 3D Printing Are Eco-Friendly
Construction using 3D printing minimizes waste, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions. Many 3D companies also use recycled materials as part of their sustainability efforts.
Disadvantages of 3D Printing
It Can be More Expensive
3D printing may have lower startup costs than traditional manufacturing systems, but when scaled to produce product in bulk, its cost per unit won’t reduce as much as injection molding.
You can Only Use Certain Materials
3D printing can only occur with limited materials like specific selections of plastics and metals. This is because not all plastics and metals can be temperature controlled in the way needed for 3D printing. In addition, these materials may not be recyclable, and very few options are food safe.
Copyright Laws May Become Trickier to Navigate
As 3D printing construction grows, a chance for counterfeit products becomes more possible, leading to concerns with quality control, brand credibility, and copyright infringement.
What’s Next for 3D Printing (+ Famous 3D Printing Companies to Follow Now)
According to Thomas Insights, the 3D printing market will quadruple over the next decade, with its most considerable (overall) value seen in molds and tooling. The biggest jump in value will grow sevenfold, predicted to reach $19 billion in 2030 for 3D-printed end-use parts.
Will 3D printing replace traditional manufacturing processes? We have yet to see!
For now, take a look at these innovative 3D companies in the design space:
Image credit Aectual | Room Divider Gradient Curve in white (Main image credit NJ Studio | Room Divider Gradient Curve in blush pink)
Utilizes recycled materials to create tailored interior objects and architectural finishes.
Image provided by Forust | The Vine collection | Designed by Yves Behar
Founded to produce high-volume wood 3D printing sustainable and affordable.
Image provided by Roche Bobois | Corail Dining Table | Designed by Antoine Fritsch & Vivien Durisotti
A world leader in furniture design, known for 3D printing the first concrete table base, Corail.
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Shivani is an expert writer for Gather who covers interior design, decorating, and home improvement. She has worked as a residential interior designer for 4+ years and has extensive training in space planning, 3D renderings, 2D floorplans, whole room furnishing and décor, and color consulting. She is passionate about educating communities on industry topics and has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, The Spruce, My Domaine, Domino, Martha Stewart, and Atlanta Magazine. Currently, she is also completing her residential interior design certificate from Rhode Island School of Design’s continuing education program.