Great Designs

Alessi Goes Digital: 3D Printed Pens

Alessi

The Alessi Goes Digital project consists of a series of digitally designed and 3D printed pens. They were made in collaboration with industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti.

Italian housewares company, Alessi, was founded in 1921. Since they began creating practical design objects for homes, they have collaborated with famous architects and designers.

Starting out with handcrafted goods, Alessi’s products have now been brought into the digital age. This also involved 3D printing technology in their most recent project and exhibition – Alessi Goes Digital.

The series consists of six functional pens which have been created using additive manufacturing from a mix of fibreglass and nylon.

How were Alessi’s 3D Printed Pens Made?

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The inspiration for this project came from Italian industrial designer Iacchetti. He wanted to create a set of 3D printed pens two years ago. However, this project did not work as planned, so he turned to Alessi for help.

The collection of 3D pens were on display at Iacchetti’s studio during Milan Design Week 2016, from April 12 to 15th. Each of the pens couldn’t have been achieved through using traditional manufacturing processes. So 3D printing company CRP Technology also helped by offering their skills.

Every pen has a unique design on their casing, but they all fit the same refill and can be packaged in the same way.

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The exhibition not only featured the final 3D printed prototypes but also many failed prototypes. The failed attempts came from experimenting with both materials and 3D printing services. For example, the first prototype was made through Shapeways Eindhoven using traditional nylon material, which proved too porous.

The last two prototypes were both too fragile; one was made by using a nanoceramic material, and the other was made from ABS and was additively manufactured in collaboration with Terni based company Alphaprotech.

For the final handheld analog device, a black nylon composite with fiberglass Windform GT was used which gave a smooth finish yet tough finish.

However, they are unlikely to be a marketable product. Iacchetti explained: “The pens were a test, maybe we’ll start working on other objects that are more in the company style. Today though is about celebrating the completion of this research.”

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