and then again
LUM evolved from research work in exploring the possibilities of manufacturing through RepRap, FDM, 3D printing technology, but also from our desire to design our studio’s lighting.
Existing implementations of the tech were put under question in search for a path that overcomes the established uptake of this technology, so as to act as a mediator for the transition from simulacrum reproduction to the development of hybrid forms, while maintaining the principle through which 3D printing emerged and evolved. Like RepRap, we combine off-the-shelf industrial materials with 3d printing and will soon make available all the 3d models plus material and construction specifications under a creative commons - non commercial licence, so that anyone interested in building the LUMs for themselves can do so.
LUM lighting fixtures are designed in Greece, produced and assembled by hand in our studio in Athens and are currently available for purchase upon request. They are not the result of mass production or industrialized processes, an element we are keen on highlighting. The finishing is the bare minimum. For all printed parts we use PLA (a recyclable, natural thermoplastic polyester that is derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane).
For additional info, specs or purchase requests, click the “get a LUM” button.
LUM evolved from research work in exploring the possibilities of manufacturing through RepRap(1) FDM(2) 3D printing technology, but also from our desire to design our studio’s lighting.
A key point of our interest derives from the fact that RepRap FDM 3d printing is relatively affordable, both in terms of consumables and equipment, but most importantly that it originates from the open source condition embedded in the technology, in the sense that it is not bound by patents and patent exploitation costs(3) and is developed through a model that encourages open collaborations, meaning loosely coordinated participants who interact to create on a not necessarily profit basis(4). To put it simple, it is an affordable and open way of producing goods. These make FDM 3d printing an unprecedented exception to market, production and distribution practices.
RepRap started at the University of Bath by Professor Adrian Bowyer in 2005 as an initiative to develop a low-cost 3D printer which has the ability to reproduce part of its components in order to eventually, in combination with ready-made industrial items which anyone can obtain commercially, reproduce itself. The authors envisioned the possibility of cheap RepRap units, enabling the manufacture of complex products without the need of extensive industrial infrastructure. The open source character of RepRap has indeed pushed towards the exponential growth of the tech, both in numbers and evolution.
Today this technology is mainly used for the creation of non-functional prototypes and for small production of low-demand components - non cost effective if to enter an industrialized production line - as this affordable version of 3d printing presents a range of challenges, especially in terms of material durability and strength, print speed and energy consumption.
We believe that the production of large all-3d-printed products can only be characterized as a waste of time, energy and money(5).
Adding to Adrian Bowyer's initial statement, concerning the RepRap initiative, that “It’s a machine that doesn't print all of itself but prints quite a bit of itself”, we believe, that in terms of efficiency, the less a 3d printer prints and the more existing raw materials are used the better, when fabricating a final product.
We address this in a number of ways, through the geometry of the printable parts, the printing specifications and choosing what to print and what not. In any case, all these become part of the final result since each production method eventually introduces its limitations into the primary design process of the produced object. With this in mind, rather than trying to reverently produce what is “envisioned”, we choose to embrace the limitations of the means at our disposal and allow them to guide us in terms of functionality and aesthetics, avoiding unnecessary processes and choosing when something is worth the effort or the time and when not. It is not part of our intentions to hide the fact that the parts of the objects are either 3D printed or off-the-shelf industrial materials. The finishing is the bare minimum and the final object is the result of assembly by hand.
The products have gone through a long period of functional and fatigue testing. This does not mean that they are indestructible but that with the correct use and installation they will last as long as any comparable manufactured product. None the less, each part can be either reprinted or reused.
At the heart of our interest is, ultimately, the search for a path that breaks away from the narrowly established uptake and use of this technology, so as to act as a mediator for the transition from the reproduction of effigies to the development of hybrid forms, monsters if you will, while maintaining the principle through which 3D printing emerged and evolved(6). Like RepRap, we use commercially available materials and will soon make available all 3d models(7), plus material and construction specifications, so that anyone interested in building the LUMs themselves can do so.
In conclusion, it is important to underline that on one hand, the free flow of knowledge without the imposition of patents or other restrictions can lead to decentralized models both of production and distribution and on the other hand, that evolution can also exist outside profit-centred systems.
1. Replicating Rapid Prototyper
2. Fused Deposition Modeling
3. Hence the relatively low costs
4. Peer production, a way of production that relies on self-organised communities of individuals, with tools such as source code, blueprints, and documentation, freely available to the public
5. With exceptions depending on use, material and printing method
6. Unfortunately, many (but not all) 3d printer manufacturers have closed their doors to the public and started developing privately
7. With a non commercial creative commons license