Taking a New Look at a Powerful Tool
Cinter uses 3D printing to provide in-house manufacturing and prototyping capability. Designers, engineers, artists, and makers are now commonly using the technology as a way to realise their ideas.
3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) has sat in relative anonymity for roughly 30 years, emerged to meteoric levels of hype in the last 5 years, and now sits uncomfortably (within the public eye) between the extremes of disruptive innovation and bubble-worthy fad. Are we determined to sequester additive manufacturing, forcing it to become either incredibly useful or nearly pointless? Are we afraid to embrace this very unique method of manufacture which opens up a wide range of possibilities? Many companies, like Cinter, are building businesses around these machines and the extensive capabilities that they provide.
3D Printing Allows for ‘Last Mile’ Making
There are inherent challenges with 3D printing technology, and limited awareness of the true functionality and advantages. With the technology still finding its feet in mass market adoption, favourable portrayal of the technology to wider audiences is critical for increased awareness.
Skilled designers and engineers are using desktop 3D printing technology because it provides the benefits of on-demand, comparably rapid, and quality results in house. It is also cost-competitive above and beyond the other methods available (especially for small batch manufacture).
A 3D printer in Every Home was Always a Reality for the Early Adopters.
Still, a large proportion of early adopters are in limbo, waiting for a 3D ‘system’ to assist in the process from idea through to a well engineered end product.
We are yearning for a mode of production that speaks to the language of designers, artists and content developers. 3D digital design remains particularly difficult to new users. At the CAD (Computer Aided Design) level, interfaces are complex and lack the intuitive nature of most current tech. The current production workflows are disjointed. The inherent strengths of 3D printing—customisation, low set-up costs, wide range of materials—are hard to approach without a unique understanding and expertise. This is where skilled Designers and Engineers will emerge ☺.
Prior to the adoption of additive manufacturing technology within the creative and technical spheres, most designers and engineers were prototyping by other, more costly and time-consuming techniques. Casting, moulding, milling, forming, and other workshop-based practices formed a vibrant ecosystem of making methods. There is still a very real need for the old as well as the new.
Creative thinking must be applied to effectively unify the ‘design-to-manufacture’ system. It is a current requirement for users to obtain or have the skills needed to conceptualise at sketch level right through to an in-depth understanding of g-code, temperature, travel settings and 3D printer maintenance and improvement.
I think it’s about time for a real-world example and use-case for 3D printing and in particular consumer level 3D printers. In 2013, the team at Cinter decided to take on a challenge: create a product line, a brand, and a business using a desktop 3D printer.
To produce a commercially viable product from a desktop 3D printer using cutting edge materials, with little experience with 3D printing and a tight 4 week schedule to get to market.
Igneous London was on-sale in the Barbican by late 2013
The collection was named after the similarities between current 3D printing processes and igneous rock formations, which are deposited by the layering-up of cooling magma (intrusive and extrusive) after an eruption.
The constraints of this challenge: the result should be creative and experimental, but small and simple enough so that it could be printed easily and cost-effectively whilst commanding a premium price. Creating jewellery designs allowed us to learn how to use the machine to its best effect. Early adoption of materials like Laybrick and Laywood was ‘on-brand’ for Cinter. It also piqued our curiosity as materials scientists. It gave us an opportunity to experiment with surface finish, texture and colour.
Our collection sold out in the Barbican Centre, London within a few weeks.
Do you want to understand what 3D printing can do for you?
Visit www.cinterdesign.com to book a call.