Today we have the honor to talk with designer Dov Ganchrow about his perspective on 3D printing in design and industry. A bit about Dov’s work and studio: the studio was formed in 1996 by Dov Ganchrow and Ami Drach (1963-2012) with a wide view of the Design discipline and the belief the actions and interactions in diverse fields generate superior design. The studio’s projects range from conceptual design and one-offs to problem-solving and medical devices, pushing technologies and aesthetics in new directions. The studio engages in a dialog both in the academic and the professional realm. Dov is also a senior lecturer at the Industrial Design department at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, in the Bachelor and Master’s program.
AB: How do you see the future of Additive Manufacturing? How can companies benefit from using Additive Manufacturing in the end product?
DG: To begin with I have to explain that I work with many different kinds of companies. Some are organizations, municipalities, museums …others are brands, manufacturers, start-ups companies and then there are individuals as well. So there is no single answer; some of these companies already 3D print on a daily basis, others are oblivious to the technology.
There are obvious benefits to the use of AM (Additive Manufacturing) at various stages in the life of companies; from conceptualizing on the initial business plan, through prototyping and batch production for marketing or validation, and through to actual production and customization. It really depends on the company’s needs and understanding of the technology to see where and when it makes the most sense to use AM.
When trying to explain the benefits of Additive Manufacturing for end-products it must also be weighed against the traditional technological alternatives such as injection molding. Injection molded products are at their best when large quantities of the same product are called for and at a low cost per unit. For injection molding there is often a “heavy” initial investment in steel dies referred to as “tooling costs”, with AM there is basically no initial investment.
There are many additional advantages that weigh-in, in favor of Additive Manufacturing – even after we’ve just mentioned the basically nonexistent initial investment:
-manufacture on demand. No need for companies to fill warehouses with inventory with all the accompanying risks and costs. When someone orders a product it materializes for them.
– No shipping, or much-reduced movement of products around the globe. Files of the requested product can be safely sent to local printing facilities (or home printing…), saving carbon emissions, time, and taxes and handling.
– customization: lack of a mold and flexible digital code means that changes can be made rapidly from product to product for any of many reasons: sizes, colors, modifications, personalization, changing demand etc.
– Complex geometries/no assembly: many products can benefit from the ability to realize complex forms that cannot be produced in traditional injection molding. Additionally, there is the possibility of printing interconnected parts in a single shot, things like moving gears in a mechanism or interlocking rings like in a chain or necklace.
A more contemporary minded company will take all this and more into account when setting out and envisioning how they want to bring products into this world.
AB: What is the place of Additive Manufacturing in the tool set of a designer?
DG: 3D printing is by now a well-established technology in the designer toolkit. For example design students, not only use the technology regularly but also build 3D printing machines of their own. It is interesting to see how they not only treat it as a means to realize objects but also as an idea in itself.
If we look at the technology only through a “liberating” lens, it is easy to understand why it has taken such a strong rooting with designers. It is very practical and economical (as mentioned earlier) for someone working out of their garage and at the same time embodies values such as individuality, ecology, democracy etc. – attributes that are often championed by independent and creative persons.
AB: In the recent Matter of Fact exhibition, you used 3D printing to create the mother mold for a hypothetical ceramic production line. Can you explain how you use 3D printing to create variety in V300?
DG: The V300 project was a conceptual project looking at small-to-medium scale ceramics production and making use of 3D printing in the updating of the manufacturing process.
AM can be employed not only as the means of fabricating and end-product but also at various points along the way to an end-product. Take for example the injection molding dies I mentioned earlier, there is talk of printing the molds, something that already happens in many manufacturing instances. In this way, some of the advantages of AM can be put to use in printing a mold, but the actual end-product will remain low-cost as it can be rapidly made in that mold.
In the V300 project, I designed a 3D printed ‘mother mold’ (actually only the part of the mold that has the end-products geometry is printed, the constant forms are still injection molded) that has plaster poured into it to create a product that in the ceramic industry is called a ‘plaster mold’. The plaster mold is filled with slip – a fluid ceramic material and when this solidifies, (and after firing) we have a ceramic end product such as a vase. So basically I designed a mold that makes molds, hence the term ‘mother mold’.
The design took advantage of a couple of the attributes mentioned before: moving parts –the locking mechanism was printed in one-shot; flexible product design- changing a single printed part in the mold lets the manufacturer introduce new vase designs at a rapid and changing pace. In actuality the process was made even more efficient because the system produces concentrically symmetrical vases, the ‘mother mold’ only produces half of the plaster mold, when you have produced two plaster mold halves, you fit them together and get a whole plaster mold ready to cast ceramic vases.
AB: How do you see variable (dynamic) production versus standardization in the industrial design field?
DG: This is as much a question of economics as anything else. I think we can safely say that if it were economical, most of our products would be customized. The term often used in the design field when discussing this approach is “mass customization”; in what way can industry better serve people and on a massive scale.
We see this happening more and more but there is still a gap in price between comparative custom produced Gore-Tex jackets for example vs. standardized mass produced jackets. Figuring in ethical and environmental issues may push up mass produced product costs, and hopefully, the increasing use of mass customized products will drop their costs so that they become more comparable.
In any case, it should be understood that there was a shift some years ago from ‘industry centered’ to ‘human-centered’ with regards to products, Henry Ford would have had a hard time adjusting…
There is also an ongoing debate as to how much customization is needed; if an individual can have full power over how his products look and work, will he know what to do with this freedom? Often customization systems aim for a middle-ground here, with limited parameters that can be played with and/or suggestions for specific versions of a customized product.
AB: What were the reasons you chose to use 3D printing in God is in the Details and in recreating stone-age tools with 3D printed handles?
DG: With the “God is in the Details” screws it was as much an issue of timing as anything else; I had stumbled onto this potential for visual manipulation of the cross symbol that is embedded in the Phillips screw, and couldn’t get it out of my head. Then I spotted an advertisement on Shapeways (3D printing hub website…) stating that they had started doing gold plated printed alloys, it seemed to be a sign – the product would materialize and id both get it out of my head and learn something more about printing with metal alloys.
The 3D printed contemporary prehistoric tools design project was a much lengthier and deeper look at our evolutionary use and understanding of tools.
In a couple of series of works in the project, flint hand axes were knapped (formed by hitting flint with another “hammer” stone creating controlled breakage), then they were 3D scanned, after which handles were designed based on those scans. The designed parts were then 3D printed and assembled on the stone artifacts.
This produced a very strong visual matching of modern (3D printed forms) and ancient (stone artifact). Though I must stress that in the initial series the technological issue was one we wanted to highlight, but the later use of the same process (though not ignoring this technological coupling) was really simply the means to create a series of hand axes whose core reason for existence was to ponder functional and symbolic questions regarding this fascinating stone tool archetype that is very much a part of who we are today.
5 Quick Questions With Ganchrow:
- What is your favorite source of information?
There are websites I visit regularly but my favorite source of information is my fellow designers, where the information is already filtered and customized.
- What is your favorite object, your most treasured possession?
It’s difficult for me to single out one, but in general, my answer would be knives or edged tools, carrying historical or ethnographic meaning. For example, I have a Kukri knife made by a blacksmith Gurkha in Nepal from a jeep spring I brought him and watched him make.
- Which designer do you most admire?
Yaacov Kaufman who was my teacher and mentor, I always look up to him on a personal and professional level.
- Can you give an example of a brand or company you see as innovative?
Spyderco is an American company making knives, they created a revolution in the knife market about 10 years ago, I think it’s impressive how they managed to innovate in a conventional field such as knives.
- What inspires you?
Everything, being out in the world, traveling trekking, meeting people, visiting factories, students. I’m a firm believer that there is no segregation between design and life.
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