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Brief Published: 2 Dec 2015

NowLab: Hybrid Manufacturing Processes


Berlin-based NowLab has used a hybrid manufacturing process that combines computer-aided design and 3D printing with traditional casting methods to create an unusual stool. The project is part of the studio's vision to readdress manufacturing in a modern era without abandoning industrial and craft production.

The stool has an organic and grown form, which was developed by using algorithms in a computer-generated process. The design is based around creating maximum strength while reducing material usage. Molten aluminium was poured into a 3D-printed mould to form the finished piece – adding an element of craftsmanship to this contemporary design. Combining these processes also enabled different materials to be used than those currently available within 3D printing, while also adding surface texture to the finished item.

Complex forms such as this, featuring undercuts and inclusions, have previously been difficult to create with conventional manufacturing processes. However, 3D printing now offers new possibilities in this area – particularly now that printers with larger print beds are emerging, such as the one from German specialist Voxeljet, which was used to make this stool.

In our S/S 17 Design Direction Hybrid, we identified how 3D printing is shaping a new visual language as its influence in manufacturing grows. For further inspiration, see our Hybrid S/S 17 Update: Future Manufacturing.