This week, TDMB Founder, James Dearsley, is going a little red in the face as he covers news about 3D printed vibrators, and quickly pulls the article back to cleaner matters with a look at 3D printed babies and Adidas’s new functionality for providing customised clothing in some of its stores.
3D Printed Vibrators, Babies, and… Adidas Customised Sweaters
Last night, having finally put my computer down, I enjoyed a glass of wine and some TV. Watching “What Makes People Rich?” was humorous and interesting… and then, they interviewed the founders of an online sex toy company making 3D printed vibrator (and becoming millionaires in the process).
Yes… 3D Printed Vibrators
They were discussing the various models they stocked (I couldn’t possibly name them on here!) and how they built the business. It was the product designer that I felt sorry for. Sitting there, day in, day out, designer new vibrators. However, it was the product development meeting that I found interesting.
Having designed the ‘implement’ (could there possibly be a worse choice of word?!) he then printed it out to take to the meeting for discussion. There is something very unnerving about the idea of bright purple, 3D printed vibrators, which they eventually decided was a great product, working on the name “The Average Guy”. Oh Lord, why did I start this article?
It got me thinking, though, about the mass market appeal to 3D printing… and not just in 3D printed vibrators! Where will the general public really get it as a technology?
When I came to write my weekly article, this was still on my mind (not the ‘implements’ so much as 3D printing itself – just to clarify). I took a look at some articles to explore further, and found some corkers.
From 3D Printed Vibrators to 3D Printed Babies
Let’s steer quickly away from 3D printed vibrators to 3D printed babies. This is both a heartwarming element of the topic, but also one that could be a serious aspect of 3D printing implementation.
I’m a parent. I remember my first experience of seeing the scan of our eldest (now 8) and I also remember the time when we went for a ‘new’ 4D scan where we could see more detail of what he looked like. It all became more real to me then and I felt more connected to him.
However, I am sighted……what about those who do not have that faculty. How can they get that connection with their unborn child, the start of the bonding process and the love that you have for them? You would hear the heartbeat and nothing else.
Well, I can’t recommend reading this article enough if you want to hear the heartwarming story of how these scans are now being used to model babies in utero so that blind people can ‘feel’ their babies and have that same experience. One favourite quote of mine is below:
“Describing the feeling of touching her baby’s face before he was born, she said, “It was so thrilling. We already had an idea of how our baby would look like, whose nose he would have, whose ears he would have, and so on. Almost being able to hold him for the first time at twelve weeks was indescribable. Davi’s mouth, his nose, his ears, all felt so real.”
Adidas On-Demand Customisation
On a different note, but one I think is worth covering, Adidas are looking at on demand clothes printing. Whilst not exactly 3D printing as much as mass customisation, the concept is an interesting one. We are an always on, always connected society. We want things done our way and in our own time. Product customisation is a fascinating topic, and one that we can expect to see more of.
The prospect of going into a store, designing and then having made a sweater to our exact specifications, designs and size (they incorporate 3D laser scanning into the service if you wanted an exact fit) is certainly something I would want.
It may still take 4hrs to finish the product but still a perfect example of how the on-demand society can be serviced by on-demand product design, development and build. Expect this to get quicker and more sophisticated to work with an evolving and more demanding population.
There is a lot I could say about the mass customisation phenomenon, notably that it is being pitched as a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative to mass production that promises to meet consumer demand in an increasingly identity-driven culture. But that’s probably a subject for another time. Whilst the overlap with custom 3D printing is clear to see, it’s a different aspect that deserves fuller coverage.
I feel I have gone full circle in this article. It felt like there was no going back with the mental imagery of the start but I hope I have put a good twist for you by the end. Mass market adoption could be created (or at least helped along) by these examples I am giving you here. Ultimately, we need a good and useful reason to use 3D printers. And the example of 3D printed babies for the blind is a damn good one to remember.