Last week, the Grid 3D metal printed faucet was announced by KALLISTA, a Kohler company, at the KBIS (Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show) in Florida. This unique fixture was created by the industrial design team at KALLISTA led by Bill McKeone, and produced by 3rd Dimension, a specialist metal production company based in Indianapolis, IN, using 3D Systems’ ProX® DMP 320 metal additive printer.
For the first time ever, KALLISTA was awarded Best in Show at KBIS 2018 for the Grid faucet.
The unique, ‘demassed’ design of the Grid makes it a stand-out product, and this design could only have been manufactured using metal 3D printing. With high-end industrial 3D printing such as metal, there is a lot of additional expertise required over and above just producing a metal part. For companies that are new to this production process there can be a lot to learn. In a video on the project, 3rd Dimension Owner Bob Markley refers to the range of expertise and services provided by his company, which begins at product engineering.
Design for Additive Metal
Metal 3D printing can be highly advantageous, not just for rapid, tool-free production of parts, but in delivering new ways to design products that are not subject to the limitations of traditional manufacturing such as injection-molding and machining. This is not to say that traditional processes like machining and injection molding have not come a long way or do not remain key functions in production, they most certainly have and do, but traditional processes do continue to dictate limitations. Additive manufacturing, especially in metal, invites new ways that a part can be produced, including complex internal channels even at miniscule sizes, integration of parts into a single assembly, light-weighting of parts by adding latticework and voids, and the ability to create custom parts without tooling.
To achieve this kind of design for additive takes practice and experience, and service bureaus such as 3rd Dimension are well versed in the skills required to help you develop your idea into an additive design. For KALLISTA’s Grid faucet project, the 3rd Dimension team spent about 2 months working with the engineers and designers from KALLISTA to develop the part design to perfection.
Metal Printing and Material Experience
Once the metal printing process for the Grid faucet was complete, a fair amount of engineering work remained to be done to finish these parts for commercial use: heat treatment for stresses, Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) to remove the parts from the build plate, machining to remove the support structures created during 3D printing, tumbling for a smooth surface finish, machining and drilling for threads and fixtures, and finally painting for a matte black powder finish.
3D Systems’ Direct Metal Printing (DMP) technology offers a wide range of high quality alloy material choices in the LaserForm portfolio. The KALLISTA faucets were printed in a stainless steel 316 material (LaserForm® 316-L), which meets KALLISTA’s requirements for both corrosion resistance and appearance.
Find out more about Direct Metal Printing.