3D Printed Lattice: Breaking New Ground in Product Design

3D printers and their products are gaining increasing amounts of attention for their use in both education and innovative design. While you can quickly create some fun objects with a 3D printer, many of the groundbreaking products are being produced using what is called lattice structuring.

3D printed object

A lattice structure is a web-like, or honeycombed, design that has several design benefits. It can be created to be flexible or rigid. It can also withstand a high degree of pressure, is waterproof, lightweight, and has a high durability factor. Here are just a few of the ways that the 3D printed lattice is making new inroads in product design.

3D Printed Lattice in Footwear

Under Armour hasn’t been producing athletic shoes for very many years, but they are sure making a splash with their innovative designs. Director of Design and Manufacturing Innovation, Alan Guyan, was hiking one day and spied the tangled roots of a tree, which gave him the idea for a ground-breaking shoe using 3D printed lattice.

The result was the UA Architect, which was designed with generative design software to create a shoe with lattice structures. The company spent two years developing the shoe that was both comfortable and flexible. The first run of these shoes, just 96 pairs, sold out in minutes, and a second release is expected this Fall.

Lattice Design and Medical Products

If you’ve ever broken a bone and had to wear a plaster cast, you know that they are uncomfortable, itchy, hot, and serve up a host of lifestyle limitations. One innovative designer has undertaken the task of designing a new 3D printed cast using lattice concepts that solves many of these issues.

Hungarian designer, Miklos Molnar, has created a new 3D printed cast concept that promises to be much more comfortable for patients. In addition to the comfort factor, the cast is lighter in weight, breathes easier because of the lattice design, and allows the wearer to swim or shower while wearing the device. Other good news? It’s relatively easy to print and can be produced at low cost.

3D Printing and Furniture Design

If you’ve followed 3D printing, you may have seen some interesting artwork or other designs using the technology. Now, the lattice architecture is being applied to furniture design as well. A new line of furniture called “Rio” has been produced through a partnership between Studio INTEGRATE and Morgan Studio.

These innovative pieces, which include tables and chairs, are each 100 percent unique and are partially created using 3D printing technology. The 3D printed portions of the furniture are either resin or polyamide and are each produced through a mathematically altered variation that makes them appear as if they’ve been hand-carved. The chairs and tables are available in various shapes and sizes, there are no joints in the designs, and each takes about 24 hours to print.

Lattice design can be found in nature, and it has inspired engineers to create some innovative products using 3D printing technology. The ideas continue to evolve with advances in both materials and production capability. The implications for its use in a wide range of products are virtually limitless.

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