The first few months of the year—every year—feature a gauntlet of industry trade shows where visitors can see the latest and greatest in technology and manufacturer products. Some of the products displayed aren’t necessarily new—variations of this, variations of that. But these trade shows—specifically the AHR Show, which highlights the HVAC and refrigeration, and the KBIS/IBS Show, which features some the latest designs in kitchen and bath and building technology—do offer opportunities for manufacturers to boast about new products. If a company is going to launch a new product or service in their respective industries, these are the shows to do it.
At the co-located Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Vegas, there was a head-turning moment for me—3D-printed products.
The focal point of the American Standard and DXV booth was the first residential faucets created with 3D printing. Additive manufacturing, another name for 3D printing, is the process of synthesizing a three-dimensional object by laying down successive layers of material, usually using a computer-controlled apparatus. Who cool is this? Now that’s “water cooler” talk while standing around the copiers/printers, I’d say.
The possibilities represented by 3D printing will have a major disruptive effect on the design and construction industry. “Because 3D printing offers so many benefits over traditional processes, we believe it does represent the future of manufacturing. This approach to production can reduce the inventory pressures that arise from mass fabrication of all types of products, while opening up a new world for the design and construction industry specifically,” says Jean-Jacques L’Henaff, American Standard Brands Vice President of Design.
“This approach to production can reduce the inventory pressures that arise from mass fabrication of all types of products, while opening up a new world for the design and construction industry specifically.
“This freedom and flexibility that 3D printing offers will certainly have a significant impact on traditional manufacturing methods. In addition, 3D printing provides an innovative, more efficient business model for the custom, bespoke design market,” continues L’Henaff.
The current line of DXV faucets takes much longer to complete than traditional faucets because the process incorporates customized and high quality craftsmanship techniques. The 3D printing process itself takes over 100 hrs for a set of three faucets including a hand-finishing element. Then the faucets receive an artisan-inspired butler finishing, which takes several more hours for the proper rich, patina finish to be created.
The demand for, and interest in, 3D printed products has been growing over the past few years, as has the demand for craftsmanship in luxury products. These faucets are particularly unique because they combine both trends in one eye-catching, high performance product. “The possibilities represented by 3D printing will have a major disruptive effect on the design and construction industry. American Standard made a conscious decision to become a leader in this paradigm shift, not a bystander,” says L’Henaff.