"Everyone will be interested in making things
instead of buying things" - Janne Kyttanen


Freedom of Creation co-founder and 3D Systems creative director Janne Kyttanen tells Dezeen that he believes one day everyone will have easy access to 3D printing in the first of our series of video interviews with pioneering figures in the world of additive manufacturing. Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12.

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen
Janne Kyttanen

We visited Kyttanen during a road trip across the Netherlands and Belgium, where many of the major players in 3D printing are clustered, as part of our research for Print Shift, the one-off magazine about 3D printing that we launched earlier this year.

In the movie, Kyttanen says that the actual technology behind additive manufacturing hasn't changed much in recent years, but the interest in it has rocketed.

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen
The Cube desktop 3D printer by 3D Systems

"When it comes down to the technologies themselves, fundamentally nothing has changed," he says.

"The biggest change that has happened is the awareness. People know that these things exist; they know the possibilities. Also, the ease of use of software: pretty much everything is getting easier and easier and once that happens the masses start picking it up."

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen

In 2011, Kyttanen's design studio Freedom of Creation, which pioneered the use of 3D printing technology to create consumer products, was acquired by American 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems and he now acts as creative director for the company.

Having been at the forefront of 3D printing since the 1980s when the company's founder Chuck Hull invented stereolithography (SLA), 3D Systems has recently turned its attention to the consumer market. In 2012 it launched the Cube, an affordable desktop 3D printer promising the kind of plug-and-play simplicity we have come to expect from the electronic products in our home.

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen

"We want to put 3D printing in every home," says Kyttanen. "A lot of the home machines that came on the market were open-source and people could tinker with them. What we're trying to do is to make products where you can just open the box, take out the machine, plug it in, send a file and it starts printing. That's truly what's happening with the Cube."

The machine became the first domestic 3D printer to be sold on the shop floor by a US retailer when Staples announced plans to stock it in May.

The Cube is a simple fused-deposition modelling (FDM) machine, which builds up objects layer-by-layer using a plastic filament fed into a heated print nozzle. "The Cube is the most plug-and-play 3D printer on the market at the moment," Kyttanen claims.

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen
The CubeX 3D printer by 3D Systems

Recently, Kyttanen launched a range of women's shoes that can be printed out overnight on the larger version of the printer, the CubeX. He strongly believes that as the technology moves into people's homes, it will transform the way they act as consumers.

"Everyone will get interested in design and making things instead of just being consumers and buying things," he says. "The designer's role [will be] merely creating better templates for all these people."

He continues: "If you want to customise something for yourself, now you have the ability to do that. You can make any shape you want. Now everybody has the power to do whatever they want, with very easy tools."

"We want to put 3D printing in every home" - Janne Kyttanen

It is this ability to customise products, Kyttanen says, which will drive the demand for 3D printing in the home.

"People always ask me what would be the killer product for the technology, what would sell the most," he says. "I always tell people that I don't think it's a product at all, I think it's the empowerment itself."

See all our stories about 3D printing »
See all our stories about Janne Kyttanen »

Find more information about Print Shift and see additional content here.

  • jon

    The reason he wants 3D printing in every home is because he wants the company he’s involved with to become a major player and to make lots of plastic cash.

    The majority of the larger machines are used for speeding up prototyping for the manufacturing process, not manufacturing itself.

    People will still be consumers, you still have to purchase the machine, the materials and the files – unless the consumers go on a course to learn CAD. Most people will just download files.

    The machine is limited by the one material it uses – hard plastic, and the size of the machine is only good for plastic chess pieces or toys.

    Do we really want more plastic trash in the world? There is empowerment in making but this is limited at the moment.

    • Lee

      Agreed. I think it’s ironic that all the enthusiasm about the “maker” movement is in the context of more consumerism than ever.

  • Kris

    I find it hard to believe that this will take off and cement itself as a household staple. It uses a finite resource, we are running out of oil and you can only recycle plastic a certain number of times. It seems like a short life span. Is this fad or am I missing something?

    • You can print with polylactic acid (PLA) which is synthesised from corn. I’m not a fan of anything competing with our diet when it comes to corn (for example I hate putting ethanol in fuel) but if renewability is the goal, PLA is the right stuff. The material is stiffer and more brittle than ABS, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff. I use it to print parts that need to be strong and exhibit the least flex possible. Comes out looking shiny and doesn’t emit noxious vapours.

      There are other materials like nylon and even wood. A few people have figured out how to 3D print foodstuffs but I see that as mostly a novelty that’s years away from being anywhere close to ideal. For now, it’s better to print a cookie cutter than to print cookies. There is some really brilliant far out stuff, like 3D printing tissue with integrated channels for blood vessels, and some guy is working on a food printer for NASA that would be used to synthesise various feedstock into edible food on long space missions. They gave him something like a hundred grand to work on it.

      As for the devices being a fad, they are for now but they will get better in time. If you want to create a solid object you made with a CAD program, and it’ll fit, it’s good to have. There will probably be CAD programs targeting the flashing 12:00 / Iphone crowd that will do simple things, like let you create objects with a lathe profile (cylinders with profiles cut into them, like candlestick holders), drawing a flat shape and pulling it to make it 3D (imagine drawing the outside of a cookie cutter, then the inside, then pulling on the edge of the cookie cutter to make it 3D.)

      Anyone who wants more power can learn a real CAD package. Sketchup is pretty easy as those go, certainly easier to learn than Blender and AutoCAD and all those.

      Widespread consumer adoption is still a ways off, but if you run a business and you need something custom – a tool (assuming the material is strong enough), a screw/bolt/threaded rod/spacer/etc. (assuming the printer has fine enough resolution – which some already do, especially DLP printers), a fitting in some exact dimensions, an enclosure for electronics or other machinery, etc. – 3D printers will do that. A spool of plastic is usually $30-40, and the sort of print people make will use anywhere from 10 cents to a couple dollars’ worth. Most of what I print comes in under 30 cents so far.

  • Gert Jan

    At the moment it’s limited, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell the world about the possibilities. Passionate people are needed to make things happen.

    I think design will be possible for everybody. Remember the 90’s when you needed technical skills to blog? Now everybody is able to blog, tweet and share.

    This will happen with 3D design as well.

    • Kris

      That is like saying anyone can design/project manage a self build. Grand designs has proven otherwise. Just because the potential for everyone to “design” and “make” things is there doesn’t mean they should.

      This all just seems highly consumerist and materialistic.

    • boooo!

      Having a blog does not make you a writer just like having an iPhone does not make you a photographer.

      I have no problem with filling the internet with junk, but sending limited resources straight to the landfills because most of it will be poorly designed is not awesome.

    • bonsaiman

      Oh, the old “everybody as a designer” theory. Try this:
      1 – Remind yourself the last time you went to that crafts fair near your house.
      2 – Imagine all that 3D printed…

  • bonsaiman

    Just imagine the amount of trash generated by this “idea”. Not only useless s***, but the machines themselves when people get bored with them, which will happen quickly.

  • Jim

    Sorry but this is just not going to happen.

  • Eric Leclair

    3D printing is all hype. At least the consumer side. It’s expensive as crap and the stuff that comes out looks like it was made in some cheap Chinese factory. So many 3D-printing sites are dead, including http://www.pinshape.com. What a joke.