Materialise is a rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing firm that produces 3D printed objects ranging from automotive parts to dental appliances. Materialise specializes in processes such as fused deposition modeling, laser sintering, and stereo lithography. Such technologies can directly “print” objects in a range of materials, from ABS to polycarbonate to certain types of metal.
Although it seems like they are exploring the aesthetic side of their technological capability almost as a side project, the results are stunning and demonstrate an amazing new range of styles.
In the very near future, once electrical traces can be printed as part of a fixture housing, a nearly complete fixture will be able to be produced. You can readily imagine an LED fixture with plastic shroud, plastic optics, metal heatsink, and traces ready to accept the LED chip, all printed in one step.
We can’t wait until they use this technology to push beyond discrete decorative fixtures and into new forms of architectural lighting systems.