Rapid Manufacturing: Throwing out the Mold

Modern Decor

New technology in the form of Rapid Manufacturing is changing the way designs are delivered from conception to completed product. Using the revolutionary form of printing known as Rapid Prototyping that builds up a 3D object layer by layer of polycarbons, nylon or other materials, Rapid Manufacturing or RM can produce actual prototypes in as little as a few hours. This gives advantages to designers in terms of flexibility throughout the process, a shorter production time-frame with implications for cost reduction, too, and expands the possibilities for mass customization of furniture, lighting, textiles or even architecture.


Taking the process a step further, Belgian firm Materialise
and Dutch architect and designer Lars Spuybroek of NOX have developed
MyLight.MGX lamps, a series of twenty-four different polyamide models, each similar but
unique, that are printed
directly from digital information, doing away with the need for molds. Part of Materialise’s 2007 Private Collection, these lamps are the initial step into a world where consumers could access a design online and customize it to their individual requirements. Or as Spybroek says ‘we could breed
objects like we breed rabbits…’ The lamps were featured in the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition at MoMA, New York


Also shown at MoMA and made by Materialise, Patrick Jouin’s One Shot Folding Stool uses Selective Laser Sintering or SLS to to fuse together small particles of polyamide producing the entire object, seat, legs and articulation, in a single process, layer by layer. When folded the stool is the size of an umbrella, expanded it becomes a full-size stool; the One Shot is both a functional object and a work of art.


Other design companies using Rapid Manufacturing include Freedom of Creation who work in textiles, digitally weaving designs that can easily be customized by shape, color or size to become trendy bags, lampshades, accessories and more.

Although the technology has been around for a few years, the possibilities of Rapid Manufacturing are only just being imagined.

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  1. Adrienne Breaux

    Apr 28, 2008 at 5:44 am

    This is rather amazing. The implications are far-reaching. I can’t wait to see what other designers and manufacturers start doing with this concept…

  2. Charlie

    Apr 29, 2008 at 1:32 am

    I just did a post, a few weeks ago, on Janne Kyttänen and some of his amazing designs using Rapid Manufacturing Technolgy. The technology is facinating and the possibilities endless.

  3. Julie Wood

    Apr 29, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    You may be interested in our new website, http://www.zapfab.com.
    Consumers can select and customize designs from our online catalog: We manufacture the products using 3D printers, so we can manufacture virtually any geometry in full colour.
    The customized designs can also be saved back into the catalog for other users to share.
    We’re gradually building up the range and complexity of base designs in the catalog: You are so right when you say that the possibilities are only just being imagined.

  4. Anne

    May 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Wow! I was unaware of RM, and I am very glad to have read this. the potential is amazing – espesialy given time – I imagine the costs will drop and good design will be available to those with limited budgets as well. witch of corse is wonderful!

  5. pine furniture

    May 12, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    High technologies should always be appreciated. It not only reduces the cost and time of manufacturing furniture, but also gives more ideas to furniture designers.

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