Instead of making one product a million times over you can make one product for one person.
3-d printers have been around for some time now and have increased in popularity through the Industrial Design community as means to create fast and cheap, high quality and functioning prototypes. With products like Makerbot making the technology more accesible, entrepreneurs are looking with increased fervor for viable consumer applications of the technology.
Scott Summit, of Bespoke Innovations offers one solution “Instead of making one product a million times over you can make one product for one person”. Bespoke is the collaboration of an industrial designer and an orthopedic surgeon that offers one of a kind custom prosthetic limbs. Rather than build these tools from off the shelf prefabricated parts, Bespoke combines 3-D scanning and printing technology to understand the individual user’s needs and to build custom apparatus. Cheaper than traditional manufacturing, more local and generally a better fit, these tools don’t stop at a custom sizing. Metal plating, leather wrapping, and other post production modifications help create a personalized and genuine product.
While prosthetics is certainly one application of 3-D printing technology, the software still has a steep learning curve and, with the exception of the Makerbot, entry level printers are still pricey. We are not at the point of having individual makers in our kitchens circa Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age but the accesibility of custom products is here. How might this affect computer tower design or automobile design? The revived Volkswagon Beatle is an impressive step in custom design touting hundreds of options and thousands of combinations. That number increases exponentially when custom 3-D printed parts are introduced into the mix. What else is possible? How can this one-off mentality translate to interface design?
Source Article: New York Times
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