This is my first blog post for the new Artefacture website. Its been a long time coming. Artefacture had a great run from 2004 to 2010. In those six years we sold a ton of t-shirts, got written up in a bunch of blogs, attended countless shows and even did Pool in Vegas a couple of times.
Artefacture now is focused on 3d printed products. As a designer trained in both graphic and industrial design, I’m very excited in how the 3d printing industry has advanced in the past several years.
At home 3d printing is now at a stage where it is widely accessible and affordable. Anyone can spend as little as $200 for a 3d printer and join the revolution.
Apart from current applications such as rapid prototyping, on-demand small batch manufacturing and custom fabrication, I believe 3d printing can fundamentally change our current model of consumer product production and distribution.
In the near future for example, a customer is browsing the Artefacture website. They purchase a product 3d file, upload the file to online service that prints on demand all the components, assembles and finally, ships the finished product to the customer. The other scenario is the customer brings their file to a local 3d printing ‘fulfillment’ center and prints their product on the spot with the option to customize size, color or print material.
These two scenarios are a bit off into the future. The third option, which is available to us today, is for the customer to print their purchase at home on a 3d printer.
Here the customer can customize this experience by choosing to make their print item bigger, smaller or print it in whatever color they wish. They can choose a variety of materials that suit their needs and perhaps personalize it with a name or logo. Also of course, they are free to print as many copies as they wish.
This new model of consumer ‘at-home production’ can reduce a significant amount of time, energy and resources used in conventional manufacturing. Production facilities reduce waste and pollution. Time and costs related to materials, transportation, warehousing, shipping are all reduced. Countless tons of paper, cardboard, plastic and foam for packaging are saved.
I know this a simplistic view and the reality is that as these 3d printing technologies advance and become more widely adopted some sort of hybrid approach will emerge. Ultimately in whatever influence it takes shape, I believe it will make a significant change, a change for the better.
3d printing has come a long way and its use will only continue to do grow. After seeing this potential I felt it was a good opportunity to re-launch Artefacture and focus on this emerging domain. As far as getting Artefacture going again, there were of course a lot of late nights, delays and turns before I started to gain momentum.
At first I was going to focus on RTA furniture exclusively made from baltic birch plywood. My first project was a standing computer work desk. I spent some time learning about hardware-free joinery used in furniture design. I also had to brush up on my 3d cad skills. After getting the hang of Rhino and having the desk completely figured out, I designed all the parts based on my sketches. Once ready, I had a local fabricator use my cad files to cut out all the pieces on a large format CNC router.
Two, 4 x 8 sheets of baltic birch plywood were turned into a hardware-free, RTA standing computer work desk. To accommodate various user heights, the desk features two adjustable work surfaces. The bigger, bottom surface is the primary work surface and the second surface or shelf is used to support a large display. With a little bit of effort, all the pieces inter-locked perfectly, the press fit joints magically held the desk together, my first prototype was a success.
This prototype was made back in September of 2017. I still use it to this day and I plan on making the design available as a digital download:
Jewelry was another area I explored and designed mens rings. This is where I first started to use 3d printing on demand services such as Shapeways and i.materialise. After designing a ring, I uploaded its STL file to an online service.
Materials ranged from platinum, gold, sterling silver to a variety of plated metals and plastics. My initial prototypes didn’t fit because I didn’t take into account the slight shrinkage of materials during production.
After some fine-tuning, the fit was as intended and overall I was very pleased with my efforts. I enjoyed my brief foray in jewelry design, but soon realized that the pragmatic designer in me wanted to be a bit more practical and design useful objects.
Soon after this experiment I also came to the realization that I wanted to sell 3D digital files directly to my customers and not deal with inventory, packaging and shipping of physical products.
This approach obviously simplifies the business, reduces costs and most importantly, for the reasons mentioned above, makes for a more earth friendly, sustainable model.
Ultimately our goal is to create a marketplace for well designed, curated 3D product printables. Working with designers and makers from all over globe, this collective will be sharing their creative works on our platform for you to enjoy.
Artefacture is launching with three very simple products. We think they are well designed and compliment any modern workspace. We hope you enjoy the process of printing them at home and deem them useful and worthwhile objects.
We are excited as we take our initial steps in exploring this new paradigm where you the consumer takes a more active and responsible role in deciding what constitutes our human-made environment.
Thank you, until next time! - Andreu O.