Buzz words in the world of design, aerospace engineering and beyond, you've likely heard of 3D printing and know something or other about it. But while we're still a long way off printing off home accessories, glasses and spare parts from the comfort of our own homes, we're getting notably closer to a place where these 'futuristic' technologies are considered the norm in design for homes.
One example of where we can expect to see 3D printing shaking up well-established processes is in the way we design kitchens and bathrooms, as producer of luxury bathroom and kitchen fittings, Grohe, demonstrated with their release of the Grohe Icon 3D – a pioneering, 3D printed tap (above) – last week.
But, other than the novelty of knowing your kitchen fixtures and fittings have been 3D-printed, what are the pros of this technology?
Firstly, 3D printing provides the opportunity for manufacturers to produce exactly what the consumer needs, when the consumer needs it, as opposed to manufacturing products based on sales predictions, which then end up not being sold.
In addition to reducing the volume of products manufactured unnecessarily (and consequently wasted) this also reduces the amount of energy produced unnecessarily during the production process.
Repairing rather than replacing
3D printing also offers the opportunity to repair broken or faulty products, as opposed to replacing them entirely.
By creating a backlog of product components that are kept on file forever – as opposed to replacement pieces being discarded after a 10 year warranty has run out – the option to 3D print spare parts will reduce the personal waste of a consumer over the course of a lifetime.
Offering bespoke options
3D printing also allows for an increased opportunity to design bespoke features that better suit your needs and interiors style for specifically. While this level of service currently comes at a premium, it's not unreasonable to suggest that in future the opportunity to create custom designs will be accessible to the average homeowner.
Speaking about the future of 3D printing for Grohe, Thomas Fuhr, executive director operations adds, 'In order to be a pioneer in the industry and to further expand our technology leadership, we invest heavily not only in research and development, but also in innovative manufacturing processes in our plants. With 3D metal-printing, we are ringing in a new era in production.'
We couldn't agree more.