Printing products at home is
"cheaper than shopping"


Janne Kyttanen

News: consumers can save money by printing products at home rather than shopping for them, according to Janne Kyttanen, co-founder of design studio Freedom of Creation and creative director of 3D printer company 3D Systems (+ interview).

Cube 3D printer

Kyttanen said 3D printers are now so affordable that you they can print "normal household products" more cheaply than you can buy them. "This iPod Nano holder for example costs two Euros to make," he adds, holding a plastic strap, which was printed in a just over an hour on 3D Systems' new Cube printer (above). "So why go buy something when you could just make your own things?”

Cube 3D printer

Freedom of Creation was one of the first design studios to experiment with 3D printing, presenting a series of printed lights in Milan in 2003. Last year the Amsterdam-based studio was bought by 3D Systems and Kyttanen became creative director of the South Carolina company in the process.

Cube 3D printer creations

Earlier this year, Kyttanen oversaw the launch of Cube, a £1,199 extrusion printer aimed at the domestic market. "It’s an entry-level machine for anybody to buy for the home," said Kyttanen.

Kyttanen spoke to Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs at the 3D Printshow in London about the way the 3D printing landscape has changed over the last decade. For more from the show, see our interview with MakerBot CEO and co-founder Bre Pettis.

All our stories about 3D printing | All our stories about Freedom of Creation

Here's an edited transcript of the interview with Kyttanen:

Marcus Fairs: “We first met in Milan nine years ago, at the first Freedom of Creation show.”

Janne Kyttanen: “Nine years ago, yeah.”

Marcus Fairs: “That was the first time I’d seen objects that had any design sensibility that had been made using 3D printing techniques. Tell us about that adventure and what’s happened to you and what’s happened to 3D printing in the last nine years.”

Janne Kyttanen: “When I started everything was very, very expensive so it was very difficult to get the whole thing going. My dream was always to start an industry instead of designing individual products. So I think the first five, six, seven years were extremely difficult both financially and in terms of having people believe in the vision. Only in the last three years things have exponentially started moving forward to an industry that I always envisioned. And especially the last year. It’s going great.”

Marcus Fairs: “And why has it suddenly taken off in the last two or three years?”

Janne Kyttanen: “There’s some [3D printing] patents that have run out and of course there's now massive awareness towards the whole story; and to be honest the pricing. You can [print] normal household products, like this iPod Nano holder for example, which costs two Euros to make. So why go buy something when you could just make your own things?”

Marcus Fairs: “You mentioned patents expiring. So companies that had the patents for these manufacturing technologies were preventing it from being widely taken up?”

Janne Kyttanen: “That happens in any technology. Once restrictions are removed, the bigger crowd starts to flourish.”

Marcus Fairs: “Freedom Of Creation is now owned by 3D Systems. Tell us about that merger, that takeover, and tell us about the company you now work for.”

Janne Kyttanen: “That happened about a year and a half ago. We've been talking for a number of years about how I always envisioned that the consumer world would be the final frontier for this type of adventure. They had something that I needed: technology, software, finance and a whole bunch of people running in the same direction. I had of course 12 years of valuable content that we can just quickly get going, instead of them getting other designers or buying somewhere else to get it going. So it was for me a match made in heaven.”

Marcus Fairs: “And they’re a company that makes 3D printing machines?”

Janne Kyttanen: “Yeah. 3D Systems originally started 25 years ago, so it actually invented the whole technology and the whole industry. [3D Systems co-founder] Chuck Hull invented stereolithography [in 1986]. But we have pretty much all the print platforms: stereolithography, selective laser sintering and so on. And the latest venture is on a bigger scale: we're entering the consumer market with the Cube."

Marcus Fairs: “And the Cube is what?”

Janne Kyttanen: “It's an extrusion machine that has a heated nozzle that makes things in 3D. It’s very very simple.”

Marcus Fairs: “And this is aimed at the consumer market?”

Janne Kyttanen: “Yeah, yeah. It's £1,199. So it’s an entry-level machine for anybody to buy for the home.”

Marcus Fairs: “So this is not aimed at designers to prototype products with; it's aimed families to have fun with?”

Janne Kyttanen: “Yeah I mean we have a slogan called 'it’s for kids from eight to eighty'. So anybody can use it.”

Marcus Fairs: “And where is this kind of technology taking manufacturing, taking the design world? There’s been a lot of people saying ‘Oh it’s the end of the big manufacturing cycle of, you know, big mega-brands and mega-corporations’, but is it? Or is it just a bit of fun?”

Janne Kyttanen: “Wasn’t the web going to be the killer for paper? And so forth. So I don’t think anything will replace anything, it’s just that a massive 3D manufacturing industry will also grow I believe. These are just some new technologies, just a new thing.”

  • chapmaniac

    Did that guy 3D print his hairstyle?

  • leon

    He forgot that not all people are designers or know how to use 3D software or want to learn it. I do not think that a lawyer, an accountant or a builder at the end of the day want start playing with this toy. I agree, it could be the future but not in the way Janne believes, the designer or hobbyist will love it not another people.

    There is also a sustainable issue, the plastic is an environmental issue, and using this plastic toy-maker can increase considerably the risk in having useless stuff at home that will be eventually throw away soon or later. There is also a great risk to make inefficient products, product with miserable lives (i.e. that shoes cannot be comfortable, first item throw away), risk to create small plastic item that can be lost in the environment, bla bla.

    It is a cool devices but dangerous if given away to anybody.

  • Print me some Nescafé and we have a deal.

  • Realist

    Summary should be “only a handful of consumers could ever save money by first learning how to properly 3d model and then spending thousands on a printer setup just to find they can only print out their own poorly designed rendition of an already mass manufactured “chip clip”… Without the torsion spring of course. You would have to spec and buy the spring separately from a manufacturer or go buy another chip clip and use that spring.”

    Yes, I know websites exist to download existing cad files, they are pretty worthless and would never justify the cost of buying a setup in order to “save” $$$.

    • quinzark

      They will improve, as will the printer itself along with the growth of the market. For now however it is not as ‘entry level’ as it seems to be implied here.

  • mr.omari

    Our world is full of idiotic people. This is just a cheap idea! For example, imagine how harmful it would be if every house turned into a factory and everyone started using un-environmentally friendly materials. Who would watch and keep an eye on it? You will be busy selling your cheap 3D printers to people and earning the money! So it’s not you.

  • zeeman

    One hour for an iPod holder from a printer or 10 seconds from an injection mould in a vastly superior material. This is a long way off and the hype around it seems to come from people who don’t understand industrial production. A lot of boring, dumb designs will be coming from these things. Still only good for protoyping.