In an old Philips factory in the center of Eindhoven the Netherlands lies the Eindhoven Design Academy. In the heart of a city built by manufacturing and the first consumer electronics boom, some of the world’s best designers are educated. Across the street in a tiny building is Philips’ first factory. Here over a century ago, an entrepreneurial family started to make light bulbs. These streamed across the Earth, and a multinational corporation sprang up. Buildings were commissioned all around the old factory including the Witte Dame, the building that now houses the prestigious Design Academy. This old light bulb factory currently plays host to 171 designers exhibiting their graduation projects. Hailing from all over the world these students have developed concepts, products, and solutions. In a city shaped by manufacturing, they are telling stories of new products, new ways of making and modern methods. It will not surprise you therefore that some of those people have turned to 3D printing to unlock their ideas from their minds.

Audrey Large’s ‘mocaps’ are 3D printed objects whose designs are manipulated and transformed by a motion capture system. By using motion capture to design and edit, a new system and way of making is created. Products can be created, edited and reshaped. In effect, a new way has been built to merge our digital and physical worlds.

Audrey told me that, “all these technologies exist to create images and I wanted to use them to manipulate reality as we do manipulate images. The process and research were interesting to me.”

Of the process, Audrey explained, “I first scan an object using motion capture software. Then I export the track to get the 3D data. Then I 3D print the object. After I can then do motion capture again using this 3D printed object to create a new one.”

This way of enmeshing the bits and the bites in our world is a very interesting way of looking at making objects. Many believe that AR and VR are the future to designing and creating objects but Audrey is already much further along than this.

Printstrument is a collection of parts that can be used to build musical instruments. Kristaps Politis wanted to make learning music less regimented and more fun. He has a whole collection of 3D printed parts that he told me he wished “should be the first introduction to music for kids.”

“Kids can create their own flutes, shakers, even instruments that could be played by more than one kid per time,” he said. “Afterwards kids can learn about pitch and the type of sounds the instruments can make.”

He even has rhythmical shakers that can be used by five-year-olds. Kristaps hopes that “kindergartens in the future will print their own sets.” This is a wonderful way of looking at teaching and learning music. By letting kids make their own instruments the whole subject seems more playful, fun and approachable. Rather than a hallowed well defined thing instruments are now made of playful fun parts that can be remixed by kids. This will let kids take a wholly new ownership of music and making music. A lot of artists are working with remixes and remixing but Kristaps lets us remix the musical instrument itself.

[Photograph: Ronald Smits]

One exciting new idea is a 3D weaving method developed by Fransje Grimbere. She uses custom-made looms that weave textiles together in the form of rope. The woven structure is then coated with resin to let you make a solid structure out of them. It is easy to see how this technology could be used to make large-scale structures very quickly.

I’m excited about the idea of combining something like Fransje’s technology with FDM to very quickly create large scale walls and other structures. By hardening an existing rope large cells and other parts can be made much more quickly than by just printing them.

One very hopeful project was Korean designer Soyoun Kim‘s BNZ project. Here he reimagines the Korean DMZ as a “friendship zone” with 25 buildings shared by the now two opposing Koreas. He used 3D printing to showcase the architectural designs. Its nice to see such unbridled optimism for our planet and for the ability design has to heal and bring people together. Often it seems like there are dark clouds gathering continually in our world. People like Soyoun remind us that with hope and positive actions we may yet create a very different world for ourselves.

At the Design Academy Graduation during Dutch Design Week we saw several useful and inspiring uses for 3D printing. Realism and using 3D printing properly was what dominated the use of the technology this year. This gives me hope that 3D printing will become an established tool in a designer’s arsenal.

Discuss these stories, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Images: Copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven / Photographs: Iris Rijskamp]

 

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