Dezeen Magazine

Printabowl uses 3D printing to create sculptural marijuana bongs

Seattle startup Printabowl has created water pipes for smoking pot that are intended to be put on display rather than be hidden "in a shoebox under your bed".

The bongs form the debut collection from Printabowl, which describes itself as the creator of high-quality and design-minded "elevation instruments" for cannabis enthusiasts.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

The company was established in late 2015 by two brothers in their 20s, Al and Saul Jacobs, who both studied art.

Their limited-edition Cumulo collection features three designs that reference organic forms, such as angular crystals and rippling liquid.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

"We think of these as pieces of functional sculpture," said Saul Jacobs, the company co-director. "They're made to exist and enhance the space we inhabit, not to be tucked away in a cabinet or in a shoebox under your bed."

"We're excited to be a part of further introducing this aspect of counterculture into everyday life," he added.

Printabowl uses moulds that are fabricated using a 3D printer. The moulds are filled with ceramic that is left to harden.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

"The mould is then removed and the hardened objects are fired in a kiln, glazed, and then fired again to produce the finished piece," the designers explained.

"Each elevation instrument undergoes thorough inspection to ensure standard-exceeding quality and durability as pieces of fine art and physical manifestations of 3D printing's earliest impact on smoking culture," they added.

Printabowl hopes to someday produce bongs that are fabricated solely using a 3D printer.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

"For this inaugural collection, we 3D print the moulds because we've found that the quality of available 3D-printed material isn't yet on par with our standards," said Al Jacobs, a company co-director. "Other 3D-printed objects, such as precious metal jewellery made of gold or silver, also use a similar casting process at this point in the technology's lifecycle."

Each bong measures 7.75 inches (19 centimetres) in height and comes with a glass stem and bowl.

The Alpha pipe features a minimalist form with subtle striations, while the expressive Ferro model was inspired by ferrofluid, a type of liquid that responds to magnetic forces.

The Tessellate bong has a faceted form that is meant to resemble smokey quartz, a semiprecious stone known for its "grounding properties," said the company.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

Released this week, the water pipes can be purchased through the company's website. Prices start at $300 (£207).

Al and Saul Jacobs developed the idea for 3D-printed bongs while pursuing art degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Inspired by a science-centred course on creativity and innovation, Al and Saul started Printabowl to nourish their shared appreciation of design in lieu of Washington state's recreational cannabis legalisation," said the company, noting that the state legalised the recreational use of cannabis in November 2012.

In total, 23 American states have legalised marijuana use in some form. The majority only allow it for medicinal purposes, although recreational use is permitted in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington DC and Washington state.

3D printed bongs in Cumulo collection by Printabowl

The retail and wholesale marijuana market could reach $11 nearly billion (£7.6 billion) in annual revenue by 2019, according to Arc View – a California-based research firm. Cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the US.

Printabowl aims to tap into this emerging market while also capitalising on the growth of the 3D-printing industry, which could reach $21 billion (£14.5 billion) by 2020, according to reports.

"The two markets' intersection appears inevitable," said the company. "Consumers have already seen toys, jewelry and even clothing printed by way of 3D. It's only natural that this manufacturing shift would transition to the legitimate cannabis industry."