Industrial Design and 3D Printing


One word. Awesome.


How so? Many consumers don’t care as much about aesthetics, or craftsmanship or quality as they may have in the past. I mean, we can argue about the extent of this, but cheap junk from china and the existence of retail outlets like walmart are proof enough for me. Yes, yes… There will always be an upscale market for high end stuff and there’s still a designer at the top of the food chain, tastemaking for the world, but as easy as it is to be derivative, and as successful as derivative often is, it seems like fewer real designers are required. Or at least are less valued than in the past. (I’m basing this whole argument on number of jobs in the market and median salaries, etc.)

This is just another tool in the garage…

The tools that are already in your garage are marketed to, and appeal to people who are already making things with similar tools who know how they work. 3D printers have entered social perception as a novelty, a new class of thing… not as another tool in the tool box, as you and I might view them. Which was the whole point of my earlier post.

I have to go back to the Apple Garage Band example. Are you exclusively listening to music that you created and produced? Why not? You have the tools to do so. Are you exclusively reading books that you yourself have written in Microsoft Word?

I don’t think I mentioned anything about exclusive use… the people wanting to replicate their own stuff aren’t going to try and print every object they consume. You’re also comparing hardgoods to art. That’s your perception, and my perception, but not the perception of a lot of consumers.

and as far as you music example… when I played in bands, I actually did listen to a lot of my own music. there IS something amazing to experiencing what you have created. I’m not sure why the vitriol, but I kind of assume that folks here are too close to the topic to look at it objectively. I mean, we all create things every day. it’s pretty commonplace. The dude who works at best buy, or pushes paper in an office building it probably getting really stoked to “build” things in minecraft right now. the step into creating something physical and tangible (even if it’s ugly/stupid) is probably even more significant for some. and when you’re moved like that, it’s not about the practicality or rationality, it’s just exciting.

Maybe this also dovetails with the design trends of customization that going on… like that electric razor posted earlier. practicallity = 0, but someone would buy it. And maybe it also plays into the on-demand, instant gratification nature of apps becoming more commonplace. I don’t know.

I think you POV has more to of with a small group of friend that you are experiencing vs what is going on in the larger marketplace. When you look at what is going on in China, factories are investing deeply in design and quality improvements. Many factory groups have CTOs and R&D teams. The standard level of good is getting more well made and more well designed. This puts more pressure on domestic R&D groups to add more value in terms of pushing trends and developing innovative solutions based on user insights.

It’s entirely possible. The point I started out trying to illustrate here is that public perception of 3D printing is different than industrial designer perception of 3D printing. I don’t think that that’s just based on my peer group.

I think the public perception, the general public, is little to nothing. Talk to some people in the finance department where you work, I love using those guys as my gauge for all kinds of things… totally unrelated, but we were working on an OBE a few months ago on a powered speaker line. We went through a bunch of rounds of revisions with design, marketing, and engineering. I invited a few people down from finance to try to open up the mockup and set up the product… total fail. We had to start over. I like using finance because these are very smart people, but who have totally different priorities and sets of expertise. Maybe I’ll do a little poll up there next week around 3d printing, just to see what they know about it factually and what their opinion is about it and how they think it might impact them.

Slight shift here, personally, I do hope that 3d printing catches on like wildfire. Here would be my ultimate state:

  1. Every person had the ability to 3d print complex objects in multiple materials either at home or at a local shop (like kinkos, but for 3d).
  2. A marketplace for 3d files emerges like the Apple App Store where both professional and amateur designers can update files for all kinds of products.
  3. we all quit our jobs because the need for retail stores, brands, and factory groups is gone as are high tooling costs, warehousing, and shipping.

Will this happen? If Amazon has proved anything it is that while some people will take a chance on no-name product they have never touched… MOST people still like going to a store and buying product from a brand they know. Before you argue with options, know that more than half of all CE product is bought at BEST BUY. Yes that much. The distant #2 slot is Walmart with Amazon coming in #3, and about 20% being everyone else. While they could get a BlueRay player from a no name brand, or speakers from a no name brand, the numbers tell a different story with unbranded product showing up at less than 1%. All of this is based on 3rd party POS data.

Could this all change? Of course. We have to pay attention to these things as professional creatives. We also can’t ignore the facts.

Let me know when this one is ready for production, then I’ll get excited.

Yo: Interesting figures you bring up about branded v. unbranded. Do you have references for this or is it just personal experience?

Based on data in CE.