Consumer Products

Consumer users of 3D printing technologies and 3D printed products were the last category to emerge. This category includes primarily adopters of consumer 3D printing technologies, as well as adopters of 3D printed products.

These are actually two very different targets for the AM industry. The first and most relevant category for the future of AM is made of regular consumers who purchase 3D printed products because these offer better characteristics than traditionally manufactured products. The second category is made of enthusiasts and hobbyists who have purchased a 3D printer as a garage tool to further explore the production of DIY products such as drones, miniature models, RC cars, robots or even the 3D printers themselves. This category, which also includes many from the maker movement, is focused primarily on the 3D printing process.

Consuming 3D printed products

Users of 3D printed products are only concerned with the products themselves and only very marginally with the processes necessary to make the. They are users of 3D printed products because these are better, more efficient, more customized products but they are not interested in how these products were actually made.

Typical 3D printed consumer products include eyewear frames and footwear products (insoles, midsoles, sandals), as well as sporting equipment and gear. These product categories all leverage 3D printing to offer improved customization and better performances through more efficient product geometries ensuring lightweight and better ergonomic properties.

3D printing has been used to both develop and produce a number of consumer sporting equipment products and parts. These include snowboarding bindings, goggles, ski boots, golf clubs, professional football helmets and several types of entire bicycles (and eBikes such as this one from Arevo) and bicycle parts. Carbon’s technology, in particular, is now being used to 3D print bike saddles, by fizik and Specialized among others.

Another typical consumer product segment using 3D printing at various levels is jewelry. In this case, 3D printing is primarily used for indirect production via lost wax casting manufacturing, enabling more advanced geometries with traditional materials. The next generation of jewelry products are using additive manufacturing as a direct manufacturing tool for polymers as well as ceramics and direct precious metal 3D printing.

Consuming the 3D printing process

This category of adopters was created when the RepRap movement made many of the technologies and processes necessary to build 3D printers available to everyone through open source sharing of information. Focusing primarily on filament extrusion and – in minor part – on DLP stereolithographic technologies, this movement led to a further, drastic reduction in the price of some 3D printers, taking it from the $5,000 professional and prosumer cost level to below $1,000 (with some systems running as low as $200).

Early RepRap adopters and developers often evolved their expertise thus creating a new business segment for affordable desktop 3D printers. This trend was – and continues to be – driven by the Maker movement, which is largely made up of amateur engineers and artists who have embraced digital manufacturing technologies and make things for the sake of making.

While in many cases this passion for making leads to failures or products that prove to be useless on unattainable, there is no doubt that the maker movement and amateur 3D printing adoption has been instrumental in raising global awareness around the use of these technologies, proving much more effective – to this day – than initiative promoted by governments and large corporations.

Latest consumer 3D printing news:

  • Photo of Swiss footballer Stephan Lichtsteiner invests in UrbanAlps

    Swiss footballer Stephan Lichtsteiner invests in UrbanAlps

    Switzerland-based UrbanAlps, the developer of the 3D printed Stealth Key, has announced a rather unlikely new brand ambassador for its security product: Stephan Lichtsteiner, captain of the Swiss National Football Team and player for German club FC Augsburg. Lichtsteiner has also reportedly invested in UrbanAlps. UrbanAlps has pioneered the world’s first…

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  • Photo of 3dpbm publishes Consumer AM Focus 2020 eBook

    3dpbm publishes Consumer AM Focus 2020 eBook

    While the world at large is facing a pandemic—one which has touched all of our lives in some way—we are continuing on our mission to uplift the additive industry to the best of our abilities. In that vein, we at 3dpbm are pleased to introduce the third edition of our…

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  • Photo of Porsche unveils 3D printed automotive seats with custom comfort

    Porsche unveils 3D printed automotive seats with custom comfort

    Luxury car manufacturer Porsche has introduced a new concept for sports car seating that leverages 3D printing and lattice design. The seating concept, called “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat,” enables customers to personalize their seat for comfort and is partly inspired by seat fittings designed for professional motorsports. While to many…

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  • Photo of Your (Kid’s) next Gormiti collection was 3D printed on a Stratasys J750

    Your (Kid’s) next Gormiti collection was 3D printed on a Stratasys J750

    In order to push the boundaries of innovation for every toy that is designed, the Giochi Preziosi R&D team leverages several technologies – with Stratasys additive manufacturing at the forefront. Giochi Preziosi recently approached Stratasys’ local partner, Energy Group, to purchase a Stratasys J750 – the world’s only full color,…

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  • Photo of What the consumer sector demands from the talent market

    What the consumer sector demands from the talent market

    Additive manufacturing is increasingly being adopted by consumer brands who take advantage of improved customization, lighter products and faster product development. The consumer sector of additive manufacturing encompasses eyewear, footwear, sports equipment, jewelry and fashion, among others. While this sector grows, with more applications of additive manufacturing technology throughout, so…

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  • Photo of 3D printed bike saddles, a newcomer to consumer AM

    3D printed bike saddles, a newcomer to consumer AM

    One of the big developments of the past year in the consumer 3D printing market has been the introduction of professional-level bike saddles, manufactured using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology. Within the span of a couple of weeks at the end of last summer, Carbon revealed two partnerships with…

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  • Photo of Student designs 3D printed pole vaulting shoes for women

    Student designs 3D printed pole vaulting shoes for women

    Women’s pole vaulting is surprisingly young. Though the sport has been part of the the Olympics since 1896, the first women’s competition at the international sporting event wasn’t until 2000. Even so, what is even more shocking to learn is that even after 20 years there is still a lack…

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  • Photo of Online lighting startup Gantri shines a light on 3D printing

    Online lighting startup Gantri shines a light on 3D printing

    Designers and design firms around the globe have expressed appreciation for the advancement of 3D printing, because of its creative potential and its accessibility in terms of production costs. One such firm is Gantri, a San Francisco-based online lighting company that leverages digital fabrication to create unique lighting products that…

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  • Photo of Sporting AM: KAV takes 3D printed helmets to the ice

    Sporting AM: KAV takes 3D printed helmets to the ice

    In the world of sports, 3D printing is increasingly becoming a point of interest for a number of reasons. For one, the technology offers unique potential for customization, which is appealing to many sports equipment manufacturers who serve elite or professional athletes. Second, 3D printing is also creating opportunities in…

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  • Photo of MIT CSAIL uses 3D printed CurveBoards for integrating electronics onto physical prototypes

    MIT CSAIL uses 3D printed CurveBoards for integrating electronics onto physical prototypes

    MIT researchers have invented a way to integrate “breadboards” — flat platforms widely used for electronics prototyping — directly onto physical products. The aim of these 3D printed CurveBoards is to provide a faster, easier way to test circuit functions and user interactions with products such as smart devices and…

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