Two Toronto architects have used 3D printing technology to start a new business in their own home: designing and manufacturing jewelry. Matthew Compeau and Biying Miao have launched Hot Pop Factory, producer of striking 3D printed jewelry designs. Hot Pop Factory offers inexpensive necklace, earrings and rings based on a consistent design theme.
But wait, why would architects be designing jewelry? Simply because Architects are in fact a type of designer whose works are most often implemented as buildings. But with a personal 3D printer they found they could produce an unlimited number of prototypes on demand, just the thing for those with heads full of amazing designs. Thus a jewelry business was born.
We spoke with Matthew Compeau to find out more about their operation.
Fabbaloo: What led you to the idea of home manufacturing for this business?
Matthew Compeau: We chose home manufacturing because we are very interested in how these emerging, high-technology fabrication techniques are empowering individuals. Not only does it provide us with an amazing level of control over our product, it also dramatically lowers the barriers to entry when it comes to bringing a new product to market. This allows young designers like ourselves to experiment freely with our design work without being tightly constrained by high capital costs.
Fabbaloo: What made it easier than other approaches?
Matthew Compeau: Besides the lower start-up costs, using home manufacturing completely changed our design process. Instead of iterating through sketches and models and then sending away for expensive prototypes and manufacturing samples, a process that can take many months, we were able to see the outcome of each design choice in real-time. The result was an endless series of full-scale prototypes that we could test and wear immediately. This gave us an intimate understanding of the fabrication process allowing us to craft and optimize our designs for the specific tools that we would be using to create the final product.
Fabbaloo: How do you see expanding your business if your jewelry line is accepted by the marketplace?
Matthew Compeau: Our long term goal is to allow others to share the feeling of empowerment that we've experienced while working on this project. To that end, we are going to explore ways of using this project to help transition the world away from mass-production and towards mass-customization. As a starting point, we are developing simple, user-friendly interfaces that allow people to customize each piece of our collection. Using 3D Printing we can provide opportunity for every individual to own one-of-a-kind fashion accessories that fit their own personal style.
We're wondering if this could be a trend? Will other home-based 3D printing-powered businesses start up? Will they succeed? What will they make and sell?