For every one great idea in 3-D printing, there are a thousand bad ones. It’s why 3-D printing today is often synonymous with kitsch and office supplies. Print a personalized picture frame! Print a new pencil holder! It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these products unto themselves; it’s that it can be tough to spot the real disruption lurking inside what appears to be just more plastic crap.
Now here’s a concept that will refocus the vision. It’s called Mechaneu v1, by New York’s Proxy Design Studio. And it’s exceptional, not because it actually does anything (the ball just spins its gears like an epic trammel of Archimedes), but because what you’re looking at is one million polygons driving a kinetic sculpture that was fully printed rather than cast or cut and then assembled.
The project is possible thanks to custom algorithms that allow the sculpture to be printed much like biological components (such as bone structures) grow. As a result, 64 articulating gears are positioned and fitted during the actual manufacturing process, making the printed product turnkey ready.
So while I’m still not willing to concede that we’ll all be printing complicated 3-D objects in our homes, a project like Mechaneu is inspiring all the same. It’s proof that the world of 3-D printing will be so much more than do-it-yourself kitsch.