The MyLight.MGX, a hanging lamp by designer Lars Spuybroek for Belgian-based manufacturer Materialise NV, illustrates the possibilities of computerized production methods. Made in 2007, it was digitally printed (also known as 3D printing) using the process of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). With SLS, a computer controls an infrared laser that solidifies miniscule layers of powdered material—in this case, polyamide, or nylon. The object is additively built, layer upon layer. There are no molds, there is no assemblage of multiple parts. The object is printed in its entirety.
The MyLight in the museum’s collection is one in a series of 24 lamps issued in a limited run. With its design, Spuybroek experiments with families of objects made possible only with digital printing—each is unique, but recognizable as a member of a single series. The designer started with a basic spherical form that was spun, stretched, bulged, twisted, perforated, and altered in a computer program, generating irregular ovoid forms. Each unique lamp form, with its surface variations and mutated openings, would not have been previously achievable without the use of computerized printing technology. What results is a functional and yet highly expressive form.
Manufacturer Materialise, which has offered SLS since 1999 largely to the medical and automotive industries, began inviting designers and architects in 2004 to experiment with digital printing in the creation of functional objects for the interior. The MyLight is one example of the freedom of creation that designers, and ultimately consumers, can employ with the process. Spuybroek was free to stop the design anywhere in the process to print an iteration of his lamp. With digital printing, his lamp could easily have been a stool, a vase, a bowl, anything. The possibilities for the technology are endless. As even President Obama observed in his 2013 State of the Union address, driving mainstream attention to the technology, 3D printing “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”
[Reposted from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum blog.]