At first glance the Print the Future shop in Midtown Manhattan looks much like any other sleek designer homeware store. Upon closer inspection, however, the geometric stools, chunky chairs and curvaceous settee have something rather unusual in common. They’ve all been 3-D printed by a machine like the one currently whirring away in the back of the room as it makes a bright blue stool to add to this tasteful display.3-D printing has so far been seen as a gimmick but it has huge practical applications Click To Tweet
The idea behind Print the Future is to enable a community of designers to convert their ideas into 3-D objects that are both practical and beautiful, and to sell these directly to consumers. Their pop-up shop – which stays open in Manhattan until March 31st – is to show these consumers that the technology has moved beyond being a gimmick and is now a viable way to produce customised and useful products.
The Vancouver-based company currently has an online presence and large-scale printing operations setup with partners in Sweden and Germany, but the plan is to roll out this model they’re piloting in New York on a permanent basis, opening up shops in major cities where customers can come in to discuss and co-design their 3-D printing ideas, watch the items materialize, and collect them once they’re finished.You can get a custom piece of furniture printed in 24 hours or less on the spot Click To Tweet
Their ambitious plans are to capture a 5-10% share of the 3-D Printing market, which is predicted to double in size to reach $35 billion by 2020. Patel puts to me that they want to become to 3D printing what Google is to search or Amazon to e-commerce. In order to do that, they will start by disrupting the home furnishings market by offering customized furniture printed to order within 24 hours, with prices currently ranging between $500-$1500. Patel’s previous company, Kabuni, is a marketplace that connects interior designers with their customers, and they plan on using that existing community as a springboard to quickly scale up.3-D printing is finally on the cusp of becoming a consumer-facing technology Click To Tweet
There’s been huge investment and excitement around delivery technology in recent years, yet this concept is fundamentally even more disruptive than the idea of having a drone delivering your Amazon order. “I grew up watching Doctor Who, and what we’re talking about is that Science Fiction concept of zapping ideas across space,” says Print the Future CEO and Founder Neil Patel. “The idea that you can upload a design and have it materialize as a complete product halfway across the world, is incredibly powerful.”
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) March 14, 2017