I have a pair of drafting lamps from Ikea (above) that I use on my sewing machine repair bench. They're based on the classic design and are useful for providing illumination at the unusual angles necessary for working on a machine. At $13 a pop they're economical, and a bit annoying to use over time as the springs fail.
The parts count for a lamp like this is, as industrial designer Leon Laskowski has observed, a bit absurd:
For his ID Bachelor's thesis Laskowski, a student at Germany's Weissensee Academy of Arts, sought to remedy this with his All In design:
ALL IN is the world's first, entirely 3D printed task light, including all mechanical components and the particularity of specially developed, sintered torque hinges. Really everything except the heatsink, the LED and its electronic components, is thus tool-lessly produced in one single location, in one piece, in one go and from one material, eliminating need for manual assembly by almost a 100% and pushing recyclability to a whole new level.
In contrast to a product often consisting of up to 100 different parts, ALL IN reduces this component count from over 100 to less than 10. It is designed to be folded into itself to be as space saving as possible during production and transport, while weighing in at less than 400g. With the currently available technology, 56 task lights can be produced at once in an industry standard laser sintering printer.
ALL IN aims to make us rethink manufacturing processes and their complex logistics. It can be understood as an exemplary and purposefully radical execution of the new kinds of production means available for lower complexity mechanical products today. Products made up of dozens of materials of various origins, which again require independent exploitation and processing of resources, different surface treatments and undergo multiple steps of manufacturing, before being shipped around the globe for assembly – just to be shipped all around again.
The possible savings in industrial tooling and equipment, transportation costs, fuel consumption and storage space, potentials for material economy and recyclability resulting from such a new way of conceiving products are still unheard of.
I can't deny the beauty, efficiency and economy of Laskowski's design. On one level, work like this is what all designers should strive for, exploiting modern production methods to do more with less. But it has been occurring to me lately that if all product designs were this efficient, and the production methods distributed locally, an entire host of manufacturing, assembly-line, packaging, shipping and retail jobs will evaporate.
I am struggling with how to reconcile this. Were I the boss of a firm where Laskowski worked, I'd promote him based on this project alone. Yet if this product managed to displace its mass-market predecessor and profits were diverted our way, there would be a net loss of jobs. I suppose one could argue that all industrial design works this way, and that it is simply the nature of competition and technology. Your thoughts?
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In order for a world to exist, where an object as mundane as a task lamp can be produced onsite, in singles or multiples, the production capacity (laser sintering factories) would naturally be exponentially greater than it is now. Presumably the people in the "manufacturing, assembly-line, packaging, shipping and retail jobs" would transpose to this new reality: filling the powder metal hoppers with raw materials, customer service, repairs...