Sharon Cohen from 3D Printing Industry
Fashionistas are not the only designers combining fashion and technology to craft haute-couture creations. Even American Standard Brands uses 3D printing for high-end bathroom and kitchen products, of all things! To celebrate 15 decades in business, American Standard recently launched its DXV Luxury Portfolio of 3D “print-on-demand” faucets.
For many years, manufacturers such as American Standard have created faucet prototypes using the more well-known additive technology of fused deposition modeling. The Luxury Portfolio continues this tradition by relying on selective laser sintering. In this 24-hour-long process, very thin layers of powdered metal are fused together with the high heat and pressure of a guided laser beam. When the layering is complete, a solid metal item can be found buried in the remaining powder. This block is hand finished and polished to look just like its traditionally manufactured, silver equivalent, except, with the new design possibilities offered by 3D printing.
To inspire these new faucets, American Standard directed a panel of seven quintessential designers and architects to develop designs that reinterpreted today’s aesthetic and performance demands. The resulting 3D process not only leveraged innovation, but also lent itself to more sophisticated faucet design.
The very strong alloy in two of the faucets allows hidden waterways to converge before reaching the aerator and makes the water “magically” appear. A third faucet uses computational fluid dynamic technology to replicate the look of a stream hitting rocks in a riverbed.
American Standard expects that 3D printing will have a “major disruptive effect on the design and construction industry” and being the first plumbing manufacturer to introduce commercialized additive technology products is a way to rapidly move ahead of the competition. Using 3D technology could lower inventory costs of personalized units and increase new forms of design and construction. For now, with each DXV faucet running between $12,000 and $20,000, most interested buyers will need to wait until the haute items become more mainstream.