Today we welcome to the team our new Formlabs Form 2 3D printer!

3D printing has been gaining popularity in recent years, finding its way into makers’ lives in many different ways. For some, a 3D printer is an indulgence, a toy. Whereas for us industrial designers, this is a highly practical product development tool and here’s why:

  1. We work in 3D CAD programs developing new and innovative solutions to real world problems. Before these solutions can graduate to mass production, we need to be sure we’ve come up with robust solutions that meet very rigorous constraints.
  2. A 3D printed part is very accurate to the on-screen CAD version. Assuming we are trying to create an accurate fit to a real world part, we can print a part, check fit, and update the CAD file on the fly. Conversely, a hand made part could never be as accurate and measurable as we require.
  3. We can save time. A 3D printer can work when we aren’t. Overnight, a 3D printer can generate the product of a day spent designing. As an example, we can quickly make up several variants of a handle that must be ergonomically designed. In the morning we can hold these variants in-hand and be ready to take the next step. Before 3D printing, this process would be much more time consuming.
  4. A 3D printed part is a great way to test dynamic solutions. We often require parts to flex, stretch, or snap relative to others. We NEED to test these solutions with real physical parts before we can confidently move forward.
  5. Form, assembly methods, scale, and proportion. The sooner we can get things in our hands the quicker we can get an embodied feel for what we have designed, how it will go together, and how it looks. Often what you see on-screen doesn’t match the real world version.