Italy is quickly emerging as a competitor in the global 3D printing market in no small measure thanks to one company, 3DiTALY. One of the company’s founders, Antonio Alliva, and his design team showcased 3DiTALY’s latest project at Milan Design Week, truly an important world stage for all things furniture. One of their primary goals is to explore the potential for combining 3D scanning and printing technology with traditional furniture design techniques and the project, titled “Eggform,” did just that.
3DiTALY, which began a decade ago as a kind of experimental laboratory, offers a wide range of services, including workshops, labs, a retail and exhibition space in Rome that invites visitors to explore 3D printing. It also maintains a strong online presence, providing a broad range of 3D printing services and hosts a thriving online 3D printing community. With stores in five major cities including Rome and Milan, 3DiTALY is actively “re-evaluating Italian design and craftsmanship,” discovering how to combine traditional crafting methods with cutting-edge, 3D printing technology.
The Eggform project’s primary goal was to produce Design Week quality furniture with the use of 3D technology. While Alliva and his team from Pescara knew that they would not be 3D printing full-scale furniture pieces, they wanted 3D technology to be a central tool of their process.
The design team began by using high resolution 3D scanners to scan organic textured surfaces like leaves, feathers and wood grain. The scans were used to create 3D models of the surfaces. The 3D-printed textured sheets were then fashioned into molds. Materials such as gypsum, lime, hemp, resin, jute and sawdust, all readily available and eco-friendly, were poured into the beautifully textured molds to create chic, contemporary looking furniture that evokes images of the natural world.
It is the 3D-printed molds with the open inner core of each piece that earned the project its name, Eggform. Photographs showing the process of the design team make this clear. Once the poured material sets, each piece is finished with wood, using more traditional crafting techniques. The team regards the project as an experiment so, while the finished pieces are beautiful, innovative works of art, they are considered concept designs and have not even been priced to sell more widely as they are basically prototypes.
Ingeniously, 3DiTALY not only launched the project as a way of testing the capabilities of 3D scanning and printing technology and conceiving of ways to incorporate traditional crafting methods, but they are also showcasing their growing business. As part of this grand experiment, they are promoting one of the most critical tools of their trade: the Ultimaker 3D printer for which they are a distributor in Italy.