3D printing has been spreading its wings moving from the automotive sector to the aerospace industry and even medical applications.
But it didn’t seem likely to show up in our bathrooms.
Well it is now. Recently Kallista, a designer of luxury kitchen and bath products, unveiled the Grid sink faucet – which was produced using 3D Systems printing materials and technology.
While that doesn’t sound revolutionary, the faucet is actually an open form where water flows through the base.
“The creation of this product is an example of where an idea existed before the materials and method of production were available to bring it to reality,” explained Dave Cullen director of applications engineering, 3D Systems.
3D Systems was co-founded 30 years ago by the inventor of 3D printing, Charles (“Chuck”) Hull. Across a variety of sectors, the company provides quickparts rapid prototypes, advanced prototypes, low-volume quick-turn injection molds, and appearance models.
With the creation of the company’s ProX DMP 320 high-performance metal additive manufacturing system it could now print the type of product that Kallista wanted.Kallista worked with 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing to bring the concept to life. 3rd Dimension led the design team in re-engineering Grid for additive manufacturing and to increase the throughput needed to make this a viable production project. This involved utilizing not only their 3D Systems ProX320, but also the full CNC capabilities to meet the exacting needs of Kallista. Since this was the first printed part for the Kallista team, the experience provided by 3rd Dimension enabled them to avoid many of the pitfalls a first-time project usually encounters.
Cullen said the new materials and processes allow for a wide range of products that are currently on companies drawing boards. “If someone comes to us with a design we are able to offer software to create the prototype. We will write code if necessary. Then we print the product using a variety of materials.”
Accommodating customers’ ideas, through its demand manufacturing services, is a key element of how 3D Systems is growing as a company. To that end the company has opened Customer Innovation Centers in Leuven, Belgium and Rock Hill, S.C. and its Denver and San Diego locations will act as innovation centers as well.
Innovation will continue to drive the industry says Cullen. “In the past five years we have seen a big change with regard to the technology and now you see that the material side of 3D printing is catching up with the new machine capabilities.”