Interview of Cults for Future Intelligence Radio London
Do you see 3D printing today as a fun gadget or as something that could have much more impact?
Today 3D printing is divided into two distinct worlds: there is 3D printing used by professionals and 3D printing used by individuals.
As far as the professional market is concerned, 3D printing already has a real impact on how we produce industrial parts. Industries like aeronautic, medicine, architecture, cars… are already using this technology to build more efficient parts and at a better cost.
In terms of 3D printer used at home, this can still be considered as a fun gadget by some people. Although this tends to change over time thanks the improvement of the technology, lower prices of 3D printers, more variety of filaments and especially the quality of 3D printable designs.
3D printing today is a tech luxury, but in the future do you hope it’s more widely available, and do you think it could be a great help to people with low incomes or living in poverty?
Today you can buy good 3D printers for 400 or 500 euros.
This is the price of a smartphone or a medium-range computer or even a games console. If you want to buy the latest iPhone or Samsung for example, know that you could buy two 3D printers for the same price. Do you still think it is a luxury industry?
This is a fantastic innovation that can already have an impact on the objects prices we are buying. Manufacturers can reduce costs through 3D printing, some objects and services could be cheaper for the consumer and increase our purchasing power.
It's also a great innovation that allows anyone to create and invent. Prototypes can be made more simply and quickly. 3D printing is releasing the designer from the constraints of "traditional" mold making or milling process. What was not possible or too expensive yesterday is fully possible today. Thus, one can easily believe that several ideas, several useful start-ups, several philanthropic projects can born and change the world. Make it better and more balanced.
Ecologically, is there a worry that if people are able to print off plastic toys completely for free, that those things might quickly end up in landfills?
Ecologically, 3D printing is already reducing our carbon footprint. Objects that are manufactured in a factory on the other side of the planet, delivered by transports, distributed in physical shop on which customers go by car to buy them; with 3D printing either the consumer can directly prints the object at home by simply downloading the file, or it can be manufactured more locally in a place like fab labs or copy tops.
Thus all the chain of transport for example could be impacted reducing the carbon footprint of a good quantity of objects.
By using only the material needed for manufacturing versus the material removal process, 3D printing makes it possible to fabricate parts by avoiding wasting material and limiting in a certain way ecological waste.
Its capacity to produce on demand also allows companies some savings in terms of storage, and again having a positive impact for our planet.
Today 3D printing is able to work with all types of materials: plastic, polyamide, steel, resin, etc. There is also a whole series of filaments with bio-degradable materials or from recycled products.
That if we can create everything for free we won't have the same need to keep things long term as we would when buying them?
3D printing is changing our relationship to the objects around us and how we consume tomorrow. The ability to replicate an object, to create one from scratch means that today we are able to manufacture some of our everyday objects. So the question is should I buy this item or can I print it? Or how can I improve this item? Spare parts are for example easily printable in 3D by the consumer. So this can be a way to fight against planned obsolescence and rather lengthen the life of our objects. Some manufacturers are starting to incorporate this logic. We are moving to smarter and thoughtful consumption.
Moreover, unlike an object bought in a store, something 3D printed at home has a higher emotional charge. A maker always has trouble getting rid of an object he made because is aware of the working time it has represented.
What does 3D printing mean for industries across seas, like factories where things like these are made?
With 3D printing, manufacturing can now be decentralized. The 3D printer manufactures parts in a very small space and does not require major installation like the traditional industry. Compared to traditional manufacturing, 3D printing does not require significant "machine" skills. The skills are more in the design of the 3D file, in the digital modeling process not in the 3D printer’s manipulation. All this can enable developing countries to catch up on the industrial competition. Tomorrow, China is no longer necessarily "the factory of the world". Each country may produce according to its own needs.
In your opinion Is 3D printing something every house should have in the future, or is it more of a luxury?
Yes for us it's obvious. This is a little factory that allows to create objects as if they came out of the oven, it's just magic. We are at the beginning in technical terms. 3D printing in colors, improvement of the printing speed, ease of use ... are still challenges that are not completed but are currently progressing. When it will be as easy to print in 3D as to print in 2D, several households will be interested to equip themselves.
3D printing makes possible to manufacture different parts without additional cost and thus the personalization of objects becomes a reality. Who has never been to a friend's house and says "hey I have the same vase, I bought it at Ikea!” With 3D printing, we love customization and we challenge standardization.
That's why we have created the Cults 3D platform, to show all the creativity that exists in this community and show the world that everyday there are tons of new ideas, new inspirations that can be downloaded and made with a 3D printer.
Does 3D printing open the door for pirating physical objects? Offering a free download of something someone had worked hard to create?
In the same way we are downloading music, e-books, movies, we are now able to download objects. Therefore, it is this content shared by designers that is premium and that we will search on platforms like Cults3D.com for downloading 3D files. We could therefore argue that a 3D design only exists from the moment it is shared. It is indeed at this moment that the idea takes all its meaning and all its strength, since everyone can remix and contribute. This type of system greatly shortens the value chain as there are no more intermediaries between the person behind the idea and the end buyer. Denuded of all industrial constraints, it is the design idea that will be at the center of the debate tomorrow.
One of the most frequented sections of the site is the adult toys section, why do you think this is drawing in so many people?
First of all, we think this topic is very internet friendly. It's like lol cats, it's inevitable. Then as in many other sectors, the creativity of the sex toys market can be unbridled thanks to 3D printing. Many people do not necessarily have access to a sex shop near their home or in their city. Producing this kind of object at home makes it possible to touch these objects at a lower cost. There is also this notion of shyness in the doorway. Some may feel a little embarrassed or even shy about entering such sex stores. Or to see a sex shop brand name on a package delivered at the office. Thanks to 3D printing at home, you can enjoy your sexuality with complete confidentiality and discretion. Finally, the personalization aspect that 3D printing allows is interesting in the field of sex toys because we can customize each object or even reproduce sex toys with the effigy of his partner for example or his favorite star.
What have been some of the most creative, interesting or surprising blue prints uploaded to Cults?
For the moment we are very proud and happy to see all the beautiful 3D models of our designers. There are more than 2 000 designers uploading their work on Cults. Among our favorites there is the Polish studio called UAU Project that is really neat. They make some great and original creations, about upcycling for example. By combining different kind of a materials of everyday objects and assembling them with 3D printed parts. Their series entitled "Cork Pals" is really nice because you can reproduce small animals from wine corks. There is also the work of the designer called Olé Gellert who offers 3D printable joints to make shelves very nice and design. Finally there is all the work of BigLilDesign aka Wes Millora who makes works in low poly super fun and stylish! You can visit and see everything we have on cults3d.com and you will tell us your favorite object as well.