3D printed in Japan – a Local Look at Global Making


Aya Bentur  

3D printed in Japan - Waterscape by Haruka Misawa - Bubbles Closeup

Nendo, Haruka Misawa, Kabuko, Rinkak, and so many more designers and initiatives are making waves in the field of 3D printing in Japan. If these names don’t sound familiar, don’t worry – here is a glance at the recent names and happenings in the field of 3D printing in Japan.

Lines and Spaces

Creation Gallery G8 in Tokyo is a gallery dedicated to visual communications. Graphic designers use paper as a tool of expression and as an outcome in itself. Nendo created an exhibition focusing on their interpretation of the medium. The exhibition, Un-printed Material, is comprised of 3D printed objects depicting paper and its movement in various outlines, states, and scale (below).

3D Printed in Japan - Un-printed Material - Nendo

3D Printed in Japan - Un-printed Material - Nendo - Paper Plane

Akinori Goto created Toki, a 3D printed Zoetrope (below). Toki, which means time in Japanese, was created by fragmenting movement into individual frames and re-combining them into a circular continuum of 3D printed lines. The circular motion and light projected, create an installation of constant motion.

3D Printing in Japan - iJet and Zenrin - Diorama

3D printing company iJet and mapping specialists Zenrin, both Japan based companies, collaborated on creating detailed 3D printed cityscapes. The dioramas (above) are not just a souvenir of a place visited. Zenrin, who are experts at mapping Japanese cities for various applications such as construction and game development, use their technology and data to create accurate scale representations.

Haruka Misawa with 3D designers Kennichi Hashimoto and Kosho Yamasaki, designed 3D printed waterscape aquariums (below and up top). The aquatic elements create an environment where fish, turtles, and shrimp can interact with landscapes inspired by water bubbles and plants, natural and man-made.

3D printed in Japan - Waterscape by Haruka Misawa - Turtle Closeup

Integration and Interaction

3D Printed in Japan - Rinkak - Ready-Made-Hack

Rinkak is a Japan-based 3D printing marketplace, one of their projects is a collection site within Rinkak, called Ready-Made-Hack. The collection is based on custom designs intended to hack objects in daily use, such as the PET bottle cap (above).

3D Printed in Japan - Rinkak Indigo Competition - Tectonic plate by Alienology

The Tectonic plate by Alienology (above) was created as part of a competition held by Rinkak which intended to encourage the integration of Japanese traditional craft such as indigo dye with 3D printing.

Kabuko is a Tokyo startup, behind projects such as Rinkak and the 3D printed electric car. Kabuko and Microsoft are collaborating on the “Digital House Making” pilot program for elementary school students, teaching them basic coding and 3D printing through the game Minecraft (below). The integration of 3D printing and coding into a popular game has the potential of strengthening analytic abilities and problem-solving skills, as well as encouraging learning.

3D Printed in Japan - Kabuko and Microsoft Minecraft

Parts and Machines

GE Oil & Gas is using 3D printing to produce control valve parts in Kariwa plant in Japan (below). The design of the valve includes tiny holes and flow channels, which required the production of separate parts and assembly. Using additive manufacturing methods allows GE to manufacture the complex geometry of the control valve in one piece and in less time. The valve which would have taken three months to produce using conventional manufacturing methods is produced in two weeks with additive manufacturing.

3D Printing in Japan - GE Oil and Gas - Metal 3D Printing to Produce Control Valve

Kabuko also worked together with Honda to develop an electric car with 3D printed parts. The car was developed for a cookie company called Toshimaya, intended for one person – the driver, and storage space for the cookie boxes delivered. The outer shell, body panels and luggage space of the car are 3D printed making it easy to integrate the company logo and branding (below).

3D Printing in Japan - Kabuko and Honda 3D Printed Car

3D Printing in Japan - Kabuko and Honda 3D Printed Car Parts

A research group in Japan including ENOMOTO Kogyo, Schizuoka University of Art and Culture, and C&G Systems is developing a 5 axis hybrid 3D printer and milling machine. The 5 axis system creates a wider range of movement, meaning allowing more complex geometries. The printer is scheduled to release later this year. Until then you can find more 3D printers and the developments on our Pinterest material board.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and impressions, share your comments and suggestions below. For more inspiration and information follow us on Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.

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