rca2The stories that I personally love to cover the most within the 3D printing space are those which focus on bringing the technology to students around the globe. These are our future leaders, creators, manufacturers and engineers. They are the ones who will be there for us when we are old, the ones who will advance technology to make our lives better. It is an obvious conclusion to me, as well as many others, that 3D printing will play a huge role in this future, so why not provide students with the necessary tools needed to succeed in this future environment?

rca4Formlabs, the maker of the Form 1+ 3D printer gets this, as does the Royal College of Art in London. The two parties recently collaborated to host a design research course that explores the future of desktop manufacturing. The course looked into how 3D printing could shift the direction that the industrial design landscape is headed in the future. Students were able to experience 3D printing first hand as part of the program titled Benchtop Factory. This program was led by the RCA Senior Tutor, James Tooze as well as Formlabs designer, Yoav Reches, with hopes of allowing students to create products that could easily be 3D printed on a Form 1+ 3D printer. The students came up with some very innovative creations, which will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum on March 28, 2015.

“We developed Formlabs for designers and engineers to create new ideas,” explained Max Lobovsky, co-founder of Formlabs. “And we’re all trying to understand how 3D printing will change how we make and manufacture. So it was really inspiring for us to have these design students prototyping exploring new horizons on the Form 1+.”

Some of the incredible creations included:

  • Removing the need to remember by Thomas Leech, Joshua Browne, Axel Bluhme, and Yun-Pei Hsiung. – Called Formkey, this is a 3D printed object that is the physical embodiment of your online passwords. It allows you to access your accounts using a simple swipe of the ‘Formkey’ in front of a webcam.
  • Memory Impression by Ivie Egonmwan, Clea Jentsch, Fiona O’Leary, and Tomomi Ogata – Created with consideration for the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, these students came to the realization that people usually return to their destroyed homes and villages in order to salvage what they can find. These destroyed possessions oftentimes take on a completely new meaning and representation. This project created a pattern-making model, designed from these found fragments of possessions.
  • The Factory by Václav Mlynář and Pinja Maria Piira – The Factory produces custom light fittings using a process of analogue material manipulation and parametric 3D models that are generated in modeling software and then are 3D printed on demand.
  • The Growing Lab by Alex Loudon, Micaella Pedros, and Cristian Ferrara – This is a fascinating experimental factory that prints growing vessels that evolve with the plants themselves.

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These creations show that when 3D printing is provided to students, their ideas can be turned into a reality, a reality that someday might just change the world.

“What I was really impressed with was the spread of ideas,” said Dr. Sharon Baurley, Head of Programme, Design Products at the RCA. “The brief was about challenging the students to envision future benchtop manufacturing scenarios, and thinking about socio-cultural, political, technological changes to manufacturing.”

What do you think about what Formlabs and RCA did, in bringing 3D printing into the college classroom for students to see the potential that it provides? Discuss in the Formlabs/RCA collaboration forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below:

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