High-End 3D Printing: Driving Innovative And Sustainable Business

“The next industrial revolution” – that’s what Lisa Harouni claims 3D printing to be. “It challenges mass production and has the potential to revolutionise products and the way we interact with things”, she further stated. At NEXT Berlin 2012 she explained why – and her arguments seem very plausible.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology, which uses 3D CAD models and “prints” them by layering thin coats of powder. Therefore the production material is used very efficiently,  because only the needed amount is applied. Any meltable material like metal, plastics, glass, etc can be 3D printed.

But what’s probably more important: “Anything you can model in 3D can be produced,” Harouni explained. Traditional mass production mostly relies on molding, which makes the production of certain shapes impossible. 3D printing helps overcoming this constraint and enables the production of objects that cannot be built in any other way.

Even though this is its biggest advantage, it also represents the main problem: 3D modelling requires knowledge and skills not everybody has. Therefore services and platforms are needed that allow users to customise products without having expert knowledge.

Harouni is CEO of Digital Forming. The firm offers companies software solutions enabling them to easily involve their customers into the design process. Designers create 3D models and upload them to a platform. The users can then collaborate with a designer of their choice and customise the model with simpler tools.

Alice Taylor presented at this year’s conference a similar approach. Her company MakieLab allows users to customise 3D printed dolls, so called “Makies”.