Formlabs, Gillette Partner On 3D-Printed Razor Handles
Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs, discusses the partnership along with 3D printing’s role in mass customization.
Gillette has partnered with Formlabs, a Boston-area company that designs and manufactures 3D-printing systems, to offer a series of customizable 3D-printed razor handles. Each Razor Maker handle is printed at Gillette’s Boston headquarters using stereolithography (SLA) printing technology from Formlabs.
Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs, told Plastics Technology that Formlabs developed a custom material for Gillette to meet the company’s needs for durability and color accessibility. Consumers have the ability to create and order customized 3D printed razor handles, with the choice of 48 different designs (and counting), a variety of colors, and the option to add custom text.
Previously, Gillette had only applied 3D printing for prototyping, but advancements in materials and hardware have made the technology a viable options to produce end-use parts, according to Formlabs.
“The Razor Maker concept allows us to create a new design, print and test it, and then the next day that design becomes a new handle available on the website,” says Rob Johnson, design engineer and Razor Maker co-founder. “That was never possible before.”
Check out the below video that details the concept and the 3D manufacturing process:
Lakatos says that traditional manufacturing techniques, like injection molding, leave out the ability to mass manufacture products that are truly customized.
“That’s one of the places where 3D printing offers a huge benefit—with material developments and automation—we’re seeing the increasing ability to scale the manufacturing of custom products,” he says. “We hope to see mass customization appearing more regularly in consumer products, but it’s forecast to make a big impact in professional markets where consumers can reap the benefits, like in healthcare- and dental-wear models, surgical guides and other end-use products that need to be custom to a persons body.”
New technology alone isn’t enough to transform manufacturing, Formlabs states. Companies like Gillette are leveraging 3D printing to explore entirely new business models that change the way they work across the entire product lifecycle, from design through production.
When it comes to using 3D printing in production, Lakatos says that “production” can mean quite a few different things.
“Mass customization is the leading trend given its consumer appeal. We’re also seeing 3D printing used in production line efficiency by creating jigs and fixtures, which means producing manufacturing tooling in-house vs. outsourcing it, saving both time and money; and in manufacturing validation—by printing surrogate parts instead of testing with final pieces you can increase speed to market, shorten feedback loops, and iterate faster on designs,” he says.
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