Mass customization and Rapid manufacturing/ prototyping…

Mass customization seems to be a bit of a buzz phrase in progressive business thinking. It has been around for awhile now but has not seem to permeate into our consumer culture. It is still relate early days and mass production is very mature business model.  We are talking about altering physical product not programing software only.

I personally really “got” mass production as a socialist movement in the early 20th century. Although there were many shortcomings and controversies the overriding “ideal” of a more equal society where craftmanship was available to the mass is something which connects with me.

Move to today mass production is a far cry from those ideals. Many sustainable, ethical, economic issues generally associated to mass production today. The hope of rapid manufacturing, reduction of components, local materials and services generally higher quality goods is where I would like to be a part of as a designer.

Visualizing concepts and designs for Mass customization

Might as as well start at the cutting edge…

First Rapid Manufactured Shoe 2006


‘Head over Heels’, is the first application of rapid (digital) manufacturing technologies to an entire product in the footwear industry, developed by Marc van der Zande from TNO Science and Industry (a Dutch research institute) and independent designer Sjors Bergmans of Sjors Bergmans Concept Design.

The Melonia shoe - wearable 3D printed footwear


In Stockholm  two design schools have collaborated to make fashion footwear in 3D printed in polyamid.

“Naim Josefi and Souzan Youssouf, of Beckmans & Konstfack respectively, designed and modelled the shoes for Selective Laser Sintering (the one with all the powder and the lasers) and produced five pairs for Naim’s “Melonia” collection, shown during Stockholm Fashion Show earlier this month.”

To me this footwear has a fresh approach, with the material and process dictating the visual outcome.  The use of one material reinforces the objects elegance. The waste in producing the piece is recycled so sustainability is a by-product of the process (we like good by-products!).

Stockholm Footwear are  not the only people experimenting with RPT

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec - growing a chair


The French furniture design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec explored structure and form for their Vegetal chair back in 2005 using stereolithography. The outcome predates the Melonia shoe but the form mimics the method or process used to create it.

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