After years of hype, it’s fair to say the personal 3D printer revolution never arrived. The output and capabilities of smaller 3D printing appliances are still limited to simple and smaller items, while the software to design 3-dimensional objects has remained aloof to mainstream utility. But surely enough a few design studios are finding innovative ways to integrate 3D printers into the creation of objects of beauty and utility that hint designers are still pushing the bounds of the nascent industry.
French based studio Notaroberto – Boldrini 3D prints nearly every part of their STEP wristwatches, beyond the matching nylon strap and Swiss movement internals, and assembles them together to produce fashionably fun timepieces that look straight out of a 1980s Benetton ad.
There’s nothing particularly advanced about the analog wristwatches themselves, but STEP is a promising example of how small design studios can operate as both in-house designer, manufacturer, and end retailer on a modest scale utilizing the 3D printer as a tool to “cross between new technology and craft process”.
The 3D printing revolution may not yet have arrived, but Notaroberto-Boldrini’s project reveals there are yet a few new opportunities to merge new and old, fashionable with functional with the developing technology that has long promised instant gratification for designers and customers alike.