Design of the Week: 3D Printed Store

By on December 11th, 2017 in Design


 A rendering of the 3D printed interior of London's BottleTop shop
A rendering of the 3D printed interior of London’s BottleTop shop

This week’s selection is the enormous 3D printed store by London-based AI Build

The project, described in a report on Digital Trends, is to outfit an entire retail shop with a 3D printed look and feel. The retail store is operated by BottleTop, an organization dedicated to sales of sustainable items to the public. 

AI Build is a startup attempting to devise ways of economically performing large-scale 3D prints. This is an interesting journey because conventional 3D printers are often inadequate for printing large pieces due to the length of time required to print and the cost of materials. But it seems AI Build wants to change that paradigm. 

They are using a different technique than the typical cartesian or delta-style approaches of other 3D printers. Instead their design employs a robotic arm, courtesy of their partner Kuka, one of the most notable robotic companies in the world today. 

The robot arm swings around directly to extrude material in a manner more efficient than the more common layer by layer approach. In addition, it appears they extrude a more coarse bead, speeding printing considerably. 

The coarse prints really don’t matter when you’re producing larger objects, as visually the coarseness disappears unless you are inspecting the object very closely, something you don’t often do with larger items. 

In this project the walls and some some furniture of the BottleTop store have been 3D printed, although behind the scenes more conventional construction has been used for electrical and other elements. 

And in keeping with BottleTop’s mandate, the material used by AI Build is sourced from Reflow, a company we’ve written about previously. Reflow has developed technology to efficiently recycle waste plastic materials from third world countries to produce usable 3D printer filament. This filament was evidently used by AI Build to 3D print the BottleTop shop. Not only does BottleTop sell sustainable items, but they are doing so from within a sustainably 3D printed structure. 

To me the most interesting part of this project is the astonishingly visual effect when an entire space is 3D printed, taking the designer’s 3D concept to reality. In every direction you are looking at 3D components. In a sense, you are INSIDE a 3D model, the 3D “vision” of the designer. 

3D printed structures and interiors generally are not financially feasible yet, but this project gives us a small taste of what a future world could look like, as we traverse through unimaginable 3D printed places of work and play.

Via Digital Trends

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!