Most faucets are purely utilitarian, but in some cases, they can also be works of art. You may have seen some of the fancier, more sculptural type of faucets in a fancy restaurant or hotel, and the ability to create unusual geometries only grows when 3D printing is involved. A few years ago, American Standard released the first 3D printed residential faucets, and they were both functional and beautiful, even being recognized by the EPA for their water efficiency.
Now luxury faucet designer KALLISTA has come out with a new 3D printed faucet called the Grid faucet, an attractive, geometric design created with 3D Systems technology. The design team wanted to create something unique, and decided to go with 3D printing so they could design without limitations, allowing them to create an open form with discreet interior channels that allow water to flow easily through the base.
“Designers usually need to consider a manufacturing process and they have to design around that process,” said Bill McKeone, design studio manager, KALLISTA. “By choosing to produce this faucet via 3D printing, we opened ourselves to limitless design possibilities. 3D Systems’ breadth of materials and technologies allowed us the freedom to create a unique, functional faucet which would not have been possible with a traditional manufacturing process.”
The faucets were manufactured by Indianapolis-based manufacturer 3rd Dimension, which used 3D Systems’ ProX DMP 320 metal additive manufacturing system. To prevent rust and corrosion, they 3D printed the faucets with 3D Systems’ LaserForm 316L, a stainless steel 316 powder material.
“In order to realize the best product, you have to start with the best tools,” said Bob Markley, President, 3rd Dimension. “The strength of the 3D Systems technology and materials, coupled with the expertise of our engineers and machinists allowed us to rapidly produce and deliver these high end faucets for KALLISTA.”
The Grid faucet is KALLISTA’s first 3D printed product, so this was unfamiliar territory for the company. 3rd Dimension was happy to help lead them through the process, though, helping the team to develop their concept for additive manufacturing. Using 3D printing meant that KALLISTA was able to avoid many of the delays and costs associated with typical production processes, such as tooling, making the whole process weeks or even months faster than it would have been. Producing the parts with 3D Systems’ 3D printers, in fact, took mere hours to complete.
“This is just one example of the value 3D printing brings to a production environment,” said David Cullen, Director of Applications Engineering, 3D Systems. “Through the combination of materials, print technology, software and services, KALLISTA was able to bring their visionary design to market.”
This may be KALLISTA’s first 3D printed product, but the experience went so smoothly and so quickly, and produced such a high quality final product, that it likely won’t be the company’s last. As more companies begin to see the benefit of 3D printing, in terms of time and cost reduction and design freedom, it’s likely we’ll be seeing more 3D printed faucets in more bathrooms – which will likely mean more unusual and attractive designs.
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