Additive manufacturing not only has the potential to deliver truly personalised products and flexible manufacturing systems, but new design freedoms and business models. Due to technological and industry advances, the 3D printing ‘desktop’ revolution has created product and business opportunities today that tap into the long term potential of additive manufacturing.
Despite major technological advancements over the last 50 years, spectacle manufacture remains virtually unchanged and is still the most common method of correcting impaired vision worldwide. Developments in additive manufacturing technologies are seeing them move from a prototyping tool to the manufacture of low volume production items for products as diverse as aircraft parts and cookie cutters. This raises the question of what these emerging technologies could offer eyewear designers.
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PA’s design team recently explored this theme at the 2014 London Design Festival’s TENT exhibition. In their shop of the future, a user would scan their face, let the software work out the optimal fit as they virtually try on and adjust different styles, before going on to 3D print the self-coloured frames.
The stand demonstrated how existing, affordable cutting-edge technologies such as digital FDM 3D printing can already be used to create unique ranges of highly personalised fashion products. The stand also facilitated a discussion about the value of 3D printing in retail and at home, and the role of users and designers in the future of consumer products.
At PA we have been using additive and 3D printing technology from the start, developing new consumer offerings built around emerging digital manufacturing platforms.
Our human-centred approach drives breakthrough innovation and design. Identifying and satisfying user needs can generate revenue growth by delighting the customer.
At our technology centre, we develop products from initial research and concept design, through development, prototyping, manufacture, supply chain set-up and support.