Merging art with innovative technology can bring up most spectacular results. The vision perfected by the work of Leonardo da Vinci today is being continued by successors to his approach, like famous car manufacturer Horacio Pagani or Janne Kyttanen, featured by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in design.
What distinguishes Leonardo and his successors is the opportunity to take advantage of the global know-how and utilizing most sophisticated technology in everyday use. Mr. Pagani and Mr. Kyttanen took very different paths – first one is creating 2 million dollar automotive masterpieces, the latter is bringing joy to people with his customizable ice pops. What they have in common is that their vision couldn’t be brought up to live in pace without breakthrough technology becoming more available.
When Janne Kyttanen was first introduced to Sinterit’s 3D printer Lisa, he had a vision of integrating her into an innovative 3D manufacturing process he was developing with his partner and co-founder, Eduard Zanen of WTFVC. The result of this cooperation is now known as Pixsweet – company thanks to whom everyone can Taste the Internet now.
What Pixsweet is doing is mass production of fully customizable 3D ice pops, which create great new opportunities for marketing and event purposes. All of this is possible thanks to 3D thermo injection (3DTi) technology – an autonomous manufacturing process transforming an image directly into a packaged 3D product. Although there are endless uses for this type of technology, Mr. Kattanen decided it is best to show its possibilities via something everyone can relate to – food. Currently Pixsweet mass produces ice pops (from 3D printed molds) at a speed of 1.3 seconds per pop, enabling customers (including, among others: Google, Warner Bros. and Hulu) to turn every pixel on the Internet into something sweet – hence the tag line, Taste the Internet.
From the start it was clear that 3DTi technology must be supported with 3D printing tools. At the beginning Mr. Kyttanen turned to FDM 3D printing, but quickly he came to conclusion that there must be a better, more efficient and easier to use solution. That’s when the Sinterit’s Lisa SLS 3D printer came in. Utilizing Lisa, Pixweet was able to create molds automatically which integrated into the 3DTi manufacturing process, enabling serial production of high quality and affordable ice pops.
One of Mr. Kyttanens biggest problems was to reduce the material volume and time of production which was needed through FDM. – With Lisa (SLS) we can reduce time of production. Post-processing is easier and faster because you don’t need to remove the supports like with FDM. What’s more FDM mold takes about 100 grams of material, which is roughly 7 times the amount to SLS – said Janne Kyttanen. – With FDM these same shapes need to be blocky and we waste a lot of material and time by creating supports – he concludes.
Pixsweet is a great example of innovation being achieved at minimal cost – even at serial production scale. Molds for ice pops are relatively small, but at the same time excellent quality is needed for lowering post-production and labour costs. This kind of results were almost impossible to achieve with FDM printing. – SLS quality is perfect, there are no visible layers and the surface itself is very precise. With Lisa we can also use only 30% of the material and re-use the other material again and again. That results in lowering the cost of single tool from 2,3$ to 1,5$ in material costs – said Mr. Kyttanen.
What we created with Lisa is basically first affordable desktop SLS 3D printer. Seeing our product being utilized in customizable mass production with such high demand for quality is encouraging us to take greater effort with creation of the next incarnation of Lisa. Our goal is to bring affordable tool to the designers and visionaries around the world so they can fulfil their dream. I think we are getting closer – concludes Konrad Głowacki, co-founder of Sinterit.
The spectrum of possibilities for SLS 3D printing doesn’t end at customizable ice pops or chocolates. It can be utilized by designers and manufacturers in thermoforming and prototyping in a wide range of applications (recognized among others by top automotive manufacturers, like Bugatti and Porsche). All of this is possible at the fraction of the price one would have to pay only few years ago – printer able to create output similar to Lisa ($4k) would have cost you around $200k.
As the 3D printing technology becomes more affordable and user-friendly, more and more people will be able to fulfill their visions and test designs in pace and in low cost. Today people are presented with the unprecedented opportunity for innovation and creation – which feels like fulfilling Leonardo’s vision of combining art, science and technology.