Tessa’s Weekly Picks – 3D Printed Door Handles and Knobs


Tessa Blokland  

Design by Alexander Pelikan. Photo by Bas Berends.

Last week ended the NYCxDesign event taking place this year from May 10 to 22 in New York City. During this period all kinds of design-related events took place amongst others WantedDesign, with a small exhibition about doorknobs, which caught my interest. A doorknob is an interesting object that is touched by many hands so frequently and often remains unseen. However, it is the first object one touches entering a building or a room. The material, texture, and movement, give a subliminal sense of a first impression to a place.

What I like about the 3D printed door handle designed and developed by the team at the Hasso Plattner Institute’s Human Computer Interaction Lab is that with a single twist the whole structure starts moving and the door opens. The whole goal of the research and design has little to do with the door handle itself, but more about the mechanisms created without screws, bolts or other fixtures with a technology called metamaterials. Anyway, I like the idea and maybe there is a designer who sees opportunities in creating more nicely shaped door handles with the material.

As I mentioned, a small exhibition during NYCxDesign was the starting point of this Weekly Picks, Doorknobs: Beyond the Everyday. The website starts with a nice quote of Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa: ‘The door handle is the handshake of the building’. I like that sentence and the 3D printed doorknob of Rama Chorpash. The doorknob, Whorl One, is a clear example of what the possibilities are with 3D printing. The intertwined three-dimensional open spiral lattice structure can only be made with generative software and manufactured with 3D printing. On the website, Chorpash explains: ‘Like a garden faucet handle, Whorl One amplifies the haptic hand grasp through a poetic skeletal structure that provides essential ergonomics.’

The 3D printed titanium interior opening controls, such as door handles and keys for the DS3 Dark Side series for French carmaker PSA also caught my interest. With 3D printing, it is now possible to mass customize parts on cars, making it more personal, even for mid-level priced cars, it also shows that 3D printing is becoming better integrated into the automotive industry.

One of my favorite door handles are the 3D printed door handles of DAE alumnus Alexander Pelikan. The door handles are the results of an exploration of errors in a 3D scan. The ‘A Machine’s Perception’ door handles, all 3D printed by Materialise, are a visualization of the scanner’s ‘perception’.

The last example of 3D printed door handles or knobs is from furniture giant IKEA and non-profit organizations Milbat and Access Israel. IKEA wants to ‘create a better everyday life for as many people as possible’ and therefore developed a new line of products adding on to or replacing parts on existing IKEA products for people with special needs and disabilities. To make these adjusted products as accessible as possible the parts can be downloaded for free and 3D printed. The 3D printed Popup handle, for example, makes it possible to open the door using the forearm or the entire hand, without requiring the use of the fingers. I really hope more parts will be offered, because I think it is a great way to make design more accessible to more people.

LEO Lane_Weekly Pick_3D Printed Door Handles Knobs

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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