From screws to shoes to beating human hearts, tech-savvy tinkerers and researchers alike have proven that you can 3D print just about anything. In industrial product development, 3D printing has been used as a tool for rapid manufacturing and prototyping but not much else. As the fabrication method's costs decrease and the palette of possible printing media increases, manufacturers are rolling additive-manufacturing technology out of their internal workflow and into the production of their finished goods.
A new series of metal faucets from kitchen and bath fittings maker American Standard’s DXV brand is one example. Comprising three designs and created by the company's internal design team, the collection reconsiders water’s path as it moves through the fitting to the user. Two of the faucets are characterized by hollow, latticed, and segmented constructions through which multiple waterways run before converging at the faucet's aerator. The result: What is meant to look like an illusion, with water gushing from the slender metal armature, is in reality a new way of getting water into the sink.
The third faucet (above, right) enlivens a typical bath fixture’s mouth. The sculptural form was designed using computational fluid dynamics to combine 19 waterways into one fixture head that, the company says, aims to emulate the look of water traveling across a rocky river bed.
The pieces were fabricated using selective laser sintering—in this case, a 24-hour process through which nickel-chromium alloy powder was fused via computer-guided lasers that used heat and pressure to create the shape of the final design—before being hand-finished to achieve a slightly worn and tarnished look.
The NSF-certified faucets meet the requirements of the WaterSense label. American Standard expects to have them on the market within a year.