3D Printing On Street Corners: A Future Scenario?

  • Rapid prototyping is still the domain of nerds, but it’s just a matter of time before 3D printers become mass consumer products. With its Kiosk project, Antwerp-based design studio Unfold explores a future scenario in which digital fabricators are so ubiquitous that we see them appear on street corners, just like fast food is sold on the streets of New York City.

    The designers developed the concept for a mobile cart inspired by Bruce Sterling’s science fiction short story Kiosk and equipped with 3D printing technologies. The rapid prototyping kiosk enables customers to “get a custom made fix for your broken shoe, materialize an illegal download of Starck’s Juicy Salif orange squeezer that you modified for better performance, or quickly print a present for your sister’s birthday”.

    It’s not only the household stores that are likely to fall victim to the rise of rapid protoyping, also intellectual copyrights will face new problems. Unfold’s Kiosk project aims to both concretize future retail concepts around rapid prototyping and address probable issues regarding authorship, originality, design and the role of the designer when goods are moved around in the form of digital blueprints and tweaked and appropriated in ways beyond our control.

    During this year’s edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan, the designer collective three-dimensionally scanned several designs that were on show during the exhibition, remixed these digitally and printed new objects of them right on the spot.