Consumer Products

As high throughput, production-ready technologies for both polymer and metals continue to enter the market, 3D printed consumer products have become an increasingly relevant segment of additive manufacturing. Literally millions of consumer products have begun integrating mass-produced and, in some cases, mass-customized, 3D printed elements.

When talking about consumer segments, there are actually two very different targets for the AM industry to consider. The first and most relevant category for the future of AM is that 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 use 3D printers as a DIY tool to further explore the production of 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, pertains mainly to the 3D printing process.

3D printed consumer products

Users of 3D printed products are only concerned with the products themselves and only very marginally with the processes. 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. Within this segment, areas such as 3D printed footwear, 3D printed eyewear and 3D printed sportswear are embracing AM technologies at a very rapid pace, driven by higher productivity polymer AM systems.

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.

Consumer 3D printing

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 well below $1,000. Now there are very efficient consumer systems for both filament and resin 3D printing, from Chinese manufacturers such as Creality and Anycubic, running as low as $200.

Final users of 3D printing technologies were the last category to emerge. This category includes primarily adopters of consumer 3D printing technologies.

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—even impressively large and detailed 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 initiatives promoted by governments and large corporations.

  • Dior jumps on 3D printed footwear at Paris Fashion Week

    Along with the BOTTER x Reebok Venus Comb Murex Shell Sneaker, top French Maison Dior also presented a set of 3D printed shoes during its own Dior Winter 23 by Kim Jones show at the ongoing Paris Fashion Week. The models, 3D printed by a non-specified polymer powder bed fusion…

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  • BOTTER x Reebok brings 3D printed shoes to Paris Fashion Week

    BOTTER is a fashion design studio that represents the fusion of music, literary, culinary and origins, that form the rich and hybrid Caribbean culture. The studio formed by Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter combines its ‘Caribbean Couture’ spirit, its glance towards Arte Povera’s philosophy, and a strong sustainability consciousness. Its…

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  • LACE by Jenny Wu teams up with 3DEO to created 3D printed chain-link bracelet using 3DEO’s proprietary Intelligent Layering technology.

    LACE teams up with 3DEO to create 3D printed chain-link bracelet

    LACE by Jenny Wu is teaming up with the additive manufacturing company, 3DEO, to release ‘Link’ – a new 3D printed chain-link bracelet that combines LACE’s innovative jewelry design with 3DEO’s proprietary Intelligent Layering technology. The design of Link completely reinvents traditional chain link manufacturing techniques – as each link…

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  • PEUGEOT INCEPTION CONCEPT features 3D printing on textiles

    With a new official message exalting its feline style, the new PEUGEOT INCEPTION CONCEPT heralds a new era and embodies the Brand’s vision for future electric vehicles. The vehicle features dozens of innovative technologies, including a 3D printed cockpit and revolutionary interior design featuring the use of innovative 3D printing…

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  • Meta acquires 3D printed smart lens startup Luxexcel

    As initially reported by the Belgian newspaper De Tijd, and subsequently picked up by the Brussels Times and various tech and 3D printing websites, Meta (yes, that Meta) has acquired the Belgian 3D printed smart lenses startup Luxexcel. According to the Brussels Times, the story was confirmed by Meta on…

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  • GM to enter F1 with Andretti Global and Cadillac brand

    Andretti Global and General Motors, two American powerhouses in the automotive and motorsport sectors, have announced their intent to pursue the opportunity to compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship. GM would be represented by the Cadillac brand. The Andretti Cadillac team would be based in the U.S. with…

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  • HyperX unveils first 3D printed keycaps as part of HX3D - a new program that offers gamers a range of ways to customize their gaming gear.

    HyperX unveils first 3D printed accessories

    HyperX, the gaming peripherals team at HP, has unveiled HX3D – a new program that offers gamers a range of ways to customize and personalize their favorite gaming gear by leveraging HP’s 3D printing technology. HyperX will preview examples of personalized keyboards, headsets, mice, and other gaming products during CES…

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  • Former Head of Adidas Innovation Lab launches FCTRY LAb

    FCTRY LAb is a BIPOC-led, LA-based footwear prototyping lab and venture studio aiming to democratize sneaker production and open-source innovation for emerging and established designers and brands of all sizes. The company has partnered with Stratasys for use of its advanced 3D printing technology and will follow ESG & sustainable development…

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  • ABCorp partners with BATS-TOI to manufacture 'The Mercado' - the most advanced multisport headgear on the market.

    ABCorp partners with BATS-TOI to manufacture ‘The Mercado’

    American Banknote Corporation (ABCorp), one of the longest-standing manufacturing service providers in the US, has entered a partnership with sports technology startup BATS-TOI to manufacture ‘The Mercado’ – the most advanced multisport headgear on the market, using 3D printing technology. Initially designed to protect wrestlers against head injuries, The Mercado…

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  • 3D printing used to create multi-level anticounterfeiting labels - thanks to a Mechanical Engineering team at Hong Kong University (HKU).

    3D printing used to create multi-level anticounterfeiting labels

    According to an article published by Hong Kong University (HKU), counterfeiting threatens the global economy and security. According to the report issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2020, the value of global counterfeit and pirated products is estimated to be between US$ 1.7 and 4.5…

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