Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed
sex toy "phenomenon"

| 22 comments

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

News: the rise of affordable 3D printers is sparking a boom in demand for personalised sex toys that can be ordered online or printed at home.

A raft of new companies are springing up to cater for the growing market for toys that can be customised according to taste and fabricated on domestic printers, preventing the potential awkwardness of receiving items in the post.

3D printed sex toy by Velv'Or

Above: JNaja 3D-printed sex toy by Velv'Or
Top: 3D-printed sex toys by Cunicode

"The world of 3D-printed sex toys is growing rapidly and every day more and more brands pop up," says designer Jelle Plantenga of Dutch "gentlemen's jewellery" brand Velv'Or, which offers printed nylon products for men (top image). "It has the potential to grow very big".

"I think the future holds a lot for this industry," agrees Tom Nardone, founder of New York-based Makerlove, a site that offers vibrator designs that can be downloaded for free. "It's definitely growing; it's sort of a phenomenon. People want to avoid the embarrassment of getting these things in the mail."

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: Slender Pebble Vibe 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

Makerlove offers a range of open-source files that users can manipulate using 3D modelling software before printing them out. "People can do whatever they want with the files," says Nardone. "Different products work for different people. People have different bodies".

Makerlove's products are compatible with Bullet, the most popular type of vibrator motor, which slots inside the printed form. Nardone set up the site after his attempts to upload his designs to popular 3D filesharing site Thingiverse were rebuffed. "I had a conversation with their attorney," Nardone says. "He said 'we want to be open-source but we have to draw the line. You can't post that stuff here'."

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: The Hello Pussycat 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

The mainstream 3D printing industry seems reluctant to talk about this nascent trend. Dezeen spoke to senior executives at two major printer manufacturers, both of whom said they were aware of the phenomenon but neither of whom wanted to speak on the record. One said: "What people do with our printers once they've bought them is up to them".

Dongiverse, a filesharing site dedicated to printable erotic objects, was launched three years as a joke "to parody the awkward amount of suspiciously phallic objects uploaded daily" to Thingiverse.

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: The Slender G-spot 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

Three years on, Dongiverse has just announced plans to relaunch as a commercial venture where designers can sell their products. "We believe that is not so tongue-in-cheek any more, and want to make Dongiverse a real place where artists can upload their designs and put them in the hands of real people," the site announced last week.

Nardone, who also runs online store www.vibrators.com, says the rapidly falling cost of 3D printers is driving fetishists to experiment with the technology. "When printers dropped to $2,000, I bought one," he says, although he adds that "surface finish and materials" are the major drawbacks of current technology. He's also looking for designers to submit better-looking products he can sell.

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: The Justin Bieber 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

"The issue is that consumer grade 3D printers can't print in body-safe materials yet," agrees Chelsea Downs of New York Toy Collective. "People can design their own toys and share the digital files online, but you still need someone to be able to take the printed prototype and turn it into a toy in a body-safe texture and material."

Even Dongiverse warns on its blog that home-printed items are not safe to use in the bedroom. "The prints are not water-tight," it advises, adding: "it’s damn near impossible to clean them." Instead, it recommends that printouts are used as moulds to cast toys in appropriate materials.

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: Anal Beads 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

New York Toy Collective is also developing a site where customers can customise toys and print them at home. The company already offers a 3D scanning service allowing both males and females to scan their genitalia and print them out: the service is proving particularly popular in the run-up to Valentine's day - or "V-day" as they call it.

"We'll be scanning penises and vaginas in the next few weeks as part of a Valentine's day promotion in midtown Manhattan so you are welcome to come by and check it out live to or even get a scan," says Downs.

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: The Rock and Roll 3D-printed sex toy by Makerlove

Downs predicts that as 3D printing technology improves, it could transform her industry. "Everyone's bodies and preferences are unique. Mainstream products are produced in very large runs because the cost of traditional prototyping is very high," she says. "3D printing allows people to design their very own toy, with their ideal dimensions and specifications and print prototypes relatively cheaply. We can then use those prototypes to make small runs, or even single products for interested individuals. It makes customisable toys possible and affordable."

Another newcomer to the scene is Barcelona designer Bernat Cuni of Cunicode, who plans to market his own range of sex-toys printed in ceramic, which is a "body-safe" material as well as being more luxurious. Cuni is investigating generative design software that allows customers to adjust the parameters of a product on screen before placing their order.

Cheap 3D printers fuel home-printed sex toy "phenomenon"

Above: 3D-printed sex toys by Velv'Or

"It's part of the beautification of sex goods," said Cuni, referring to the recent spate of design-led adult toys. Last year erotic design brand Jimmyjane said its sales were booming thanks to the popularity of erotic novels such as Fifty Shades of Grey.

"They've started to be considered design objects rather than purely functional items," says Cuni. "It's more related to the times than to 3D printing."

See all our stories about sex toys or read all our stories about 3D printing.

  • http://twitter.com/Edek_R @Edek_R

    The MakerLove products are atrocious. Blue bits will be left in my bum if I use those anal beads.

  • god

    “The rise of affordable 3D printers” – does anyone know anyone who actually owns a 3D printer? Unless I’m totally out of the loop here, I think Dezeen is jumping the gun.

    • Taylor

      I have had five different 3D printers and I’m only a junior in college. Been running them for years. There are a lot of DIY desktop 3D printer kits. New ones pop up almost every week. Makerbot is leading the desktop printer revolution. Some are as cheap as $500 to get started.

    • Bartnolomer

      Hey everyone. God does not own a 3D printer. Sorry could not resist. But this brings to mind a question. If God does not have one, then who created it? The devil?

  • joe

    I own a 3D printer and now my dildo and butt-plug worries are over. Ordering online and having it delivered to my front door was such a hassle. Bravo technology!

  • doan

    What’s with Dezeen and all of these sex toy articles? Its embarrassing. Once, cool. Twice, okay. Three times, yawn. Four times WTF. Five times, okay? SIX TIMES, WHAT THE HELL? Unlike on Facebook.

    • Guest

      Are you following the same line of thought when it’s about buildings, or tables, or lights? Once a table, cool. Twice, okay… Six times, unlike on Facebook!

    • Hayden

      Hey! Are you familiar with advertising at all? Sex sells!

  • lapalousi

    I saw this on a news feed… how exactly does this work, cut outs? Really? The first two contraptions caught my interest with the heart shapes, but it seems very odd to print and use. Very odd indeed.

  • hotte

    @doan 2012 was the year of the designer, eehm, what was his name – YES – Thomas Heatherwick. 2013 is the year of 3D printers and sex toys. Maybe someone can program a filter for these three on dezeen.

  • Paulette

    A lot of talk about these 3D printers but I really don’t understand how they work and what materials can be used. How about a tutorial?

  • sillybug

    How suitable is the printing material for use as a sex toy? Shape is not the only criteria of function, you know.

  • beatrice

    Right… so it’s not waterproof so you can’t wash it but they advise making a rubber mould to then make another rubber toy, after you clean up the bits of loose material (nothing like bits of plastic breaking off in your butt when you’re using an anal love toy).

    Basically this is clear evidence of the hysteria over 3D printing. Because it happens on a screen, people think it’s doing something mysterious. The reality is that you can quite easily make something from either plasticine (if you are going to bother doing all the casting nonsense).

    Or why not use Polymorph or Sugru to mould something quickly by hand? Far cheaper, easier to work with. Polymorph is also food safe.

    3D printing is the darling of capitalism. It infantilises the consumer, convincing them that they need to rely on an external company to give them forms to work with.

    Beware the man.

  • Anon

    Yay! I can print myself a girlfriend!

  • the brain

    First, sex toys… then THE WORLD!

  • Fancy not tickled

    Some things just shouldn’t be made to look like cute anthropomorphic children’s toys. What next, a Hello Kitty version? Or should that be Hello Pussy?!

  • Jim Flanders

    This is a peek at the future. Soon it will be easy to construct a part, even an obsolete unavailable part, for antique or new toy or appliance or whatever, without leaving the house or ordering it and without concern if the original manufacturer no longer sells that particular part. Choices of materials will grow to include many kinds of plastics and metals. Soon, every hobbyist, handy-person, mechanic, artist and engineer will have a 3D printer next to our fax machines, computers and cell phones.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure everyone fully understands the low quality of a printed object. FDM 3D prints are not water-tight. Cleaning these sex toys would be impossible. I am all for advancing 3D printing into the future of production, but I think we should all understand the current limitations.

  • http://MakerLove.com Tom Nardone

    Hi, This is Tom from MakerLove.com. I wanted to stop by and answer a couple of questions. First, many 3D printers use ABS plastic, which is actually a body-safe material, but the parts that are printed are too rough and non-porous to really use well. All of those nooks and cracks will harbor bacteria. Good solutions to this include dipping the print in a coating or using the print as a mould.

    Many of you are correct in that this technology is really in its infancy, although the printers are rapidly dropping in price and the number of designs available for them is exploding as well.

    Finally, I want to explain that the photo of the anal beads used is what the printer produces. Much of what is shown is the support raft, which you would remove before you ever used the item.

    Thanks for reading about our small project. Hopefully as the technology matures we will all be able to make parts instead of having to buy them in a store. I also hope that the MakerLove project will be around to give free designs away.

  • http://www.britishcondoms.co.uk/ Katy

    This is awesome. Technology has really advanced. Nobody knew this was possible 10 years back. Lot of people are going to buy 3D printers now. :-)

  • alex

    Things! More things faster, without leaving your desk! Things you never knew you needed can be made quickly out of plastic! Hurry, throw the others away to make room! Work hard, save your money for a bigger machine to make smoother things faster, faster! A revolution! On your iPad, design yourself an iPad! In your house, fabricate a house! Throw away, repeat, REJOICE!