Founded in 2000, Freedom of Creation (FOC) is the first design company to specialize entirely in using layer manufacturing for its products, also known as rapid manufcturing. By using the RM process that allows a CAD file to be transformed into a solid object, significant economic and environmental benefits can eventually be realized. Finnish designer Janne Kytannen focused on rapid prototyping techniques during his design studies which then became the basis for the company. Over the years, FOC has been involved in a variety of cutting edge projects for its own label, as well as for brands in other sectors.
We've heard a lot of the benefits of RM and wanted to know more about it; what the costs were, the robustness of the material, and the environmental benefits. MoCo correspondent Huib van Muilwijk caught up with Janne Kyttanen at IMM Cologne and got the answers.
Complete interview after the jump.
You are showing great, innovative products, but are they accessible to everyone in terms of price and availability? Are the production runs of more than just 10 or 20 units?
Yes, the production is of more than 20 pieces. And what is expensive? The Filament lamp costs 400€, which I think is outstanding. That is a reasonable price.
And the Monarch stool?
This is expensive: 15,000€.
For the set of five or just one?
No, 15,000 for the whole set of 5 pieces. But it is designed more for galleries and museums.
Many products are based on nature. Does the Monarch stool fall into this category?
Yes, the stool is based on the butterfly. The structure of a butterfly wing.
That is a delicate piece. Is the stool strong?
Oh, yes, it is very strong.
Can two people sit on it?
Yes, you can even jump on it. Well, actually, little girls can.
With your manufacturing technology, is this the largest you can make?
Yes, the stool is the maximum size the machine can produce. But development is fast and there are already bigger machines.
Does Freedom of Creation own these machines?
No, it's not our intention to buy these machines because in the future we want to produce everywhere. For example, if someone wants to buy a lamp in America we will send a file that can be printed and then produced there. No shipping costs, no storage, no waste, save the planet!
But how green is the polymer used in your production?
It is not a polymer but a nylon polyamide powder. Unfortunately, it's just plastic. We want a green plastic, but that does not yet exist. It is like music: you download a song and if you are tired of it, you delete it. I want to do the same with our products. Are you tired of the lamp? Okay, then we can recycle it into a handbag. It's all powder, so in the future we can change it back to powder and can make something new.
But what happens when too many firms start to employ layer manufacturing as the norm?
I want everyone to use this technique because that means more business for us. The technique is so difficult that many companies will come to us. So, more business. It all seems simple, but it is very difficult.
Is it all computer-assisted design?
Yes, but that is the simple part. The most difficult one is producing thousands of products without many broken pieces. Also, the file has to work in all the different machines around the world.
Is the Riot lamp difficult to make?
No, the Filament lamp is much more difficult. The problem with this technology is that it is not very precise. You always have to take into account the deviation of the laser. For the Riot lamp, we made only two prototypes, but for the Filament lamp we had to do 15.
Why do so many of the designs, including those of other brands, seem to be based on nature?
That is always the way with new techniques: there is the tendency to follow the same trail a bit. It is a little like fashion. You see the same structures in architecture, fashion and so on.
What are you working on now?
At the moment we are working on the entire interior of a luxury yacht: tables, chairs etc. And major brands such as Nike and Nokia also want to do something with us. They are asking us what we can do for them, in terms of adding something rapid-manufactured to their collection.