The Red Dot recognizes outstanding product design, from the iPhone and Apple Wireless Keyboard, to the BMW i8 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Now the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer (Fifth Generation Model) joins this pantheon of product design, with a 2015 Red Dot award for product design. An international jury recognized the MakerBot Replicator for its sleek yet functional form that maximizes accessibility in the workspace, and that sets it apart from other 3D printers.
“Not many companies have applied proper design process to 3D printers before,” says Mark Palmer, MakerBot’s director of industrial design. With most 3D printers, he says, “after the mechanical and electrical design is done, they just put a box around it.”
Palmer joined MakerBot in May 2014, after work on the Fifth Generation was completed. He is delighted that the industrial designers on his team, Jackson Seidenberg and Vishnu Anantha, have been praised by the same organization that has honored Dieter Rams, Bill Moggridge, and Jony Ive.
“Many people don’t realize that most of the objects and products they interact with in the world are shaped by industrial designers,” says Palmer. The goal of industrial design, he says, is “to close the gap between technology and people.”
The MakerBot Replicator improves on previous 3D printers with a level of refinement, openness, and accessibility not seen before in the industry. It has an intuititve interface, a 3.5″ display and a software platform, a mobile app, and integration with MakerBot Thingiverse. And the revolutionary MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder minimizes print downtime by enabling users to swap out a worn extruder in minutes.
“There are strong cues in the printer itself that tell you how to interact with it,” says Palmer. “The knob becomes the focal point.”
As Palmer and his team start to think beyond the Fifth Generation, they focus on easy use and immediate printing access, which will allow both professional teams and education users to evolve their ideas faster than ever.
“If our team is successful, it will be hard to discern the industrial design qualities of the product from the mechanical and electrical design,” he says. “The physical and experiential qualities of our products will be taken to a whole new level.”