Grohe’s 3D printed tap technology is pushing boundaries for production

The big reveal from Grohe at this year’s ISH in Frankfurt consisted of the two versions of its Icon 3D collection – the Allure Brilliant and Atrio ranges. Apart from their undeniably striking designs, what sets these products apart is the fact that they are produced using 3D metal printing.

By blending cutting-edge technology with skilled craftsmanship, Grohe’s new manufacturing methods are pushing the boundaries of product design.

In order to be a pioneer in the industry and to further expand our technology leadership, we invest heavily not only in research and development, but also in innovative manufacturing processes in our plants.

Thomas Fuhr, Grohe’s Executive Director Operations

The company has developed its own process involving the creation of a unique powder, with a top-secret formula for the composition of the granules.

Grohe says that the powder bed laser melting process enables it to create virtually any geometry possible. Each component for the tap consists of around 4,700 layers that are each 0.06mm thick, and after the printing process, the product is treated on a CNC milling machine, and then manually ground and brushed to finesse the finished tap.

The result is a product with a distinctive look combined with an ultra-thinness that is almost beyond belief – the wall thicknesses of the tap are between 1mm and 1.5mm.

Grohe’s Vice President Design Michael Seum believes these production methods are ground breaking. “We advanced the 3D technology process to meet the unique challenges of metal printing and are opening up a completely new way of thinking about product design in the future,” he says. “We overcome boundaries by using 3D metal printing to create products that at first appear impossible.”

Grohe's 3D printing technology is opening up a completely new way of thinking about product design in the future @grohe Click To Tweet

The ability to achieve incredible shapes combined with the element of hand-finishing opens up a realm of creativity for the manufacturer, so that it can produce bespoke items and tap into the consumer’s current desire for products that enable them to add individual touches to their homes.

This production method offers the option to design faucets in small quantities according to our customers’ requests, offering them limitless options for personalisation

Michael Seum, Grohe’s Vice President Design

As a business, Grohe is proud of its record when it comes to sustainability, with about 80% of the production waste in the company’s plants being recycled, and 79% of its packaging materials made from recycled materials. As the 3D printing process involves adding layer upon layer rather than cutting away at a piece of material, the 3D printing technology is also resource efficient, and is said to produce far less waste.

The new 3d printed tap technology that's enabling Grohe to shape the future of water @grohe Click To Tweet

But it is the ability to personalise and be flexible in its approach when it comes to what the customer wants that is key.

Says Seum: “We are entering the next era of design creation. This will have a huge impact on factory design, and new business models will emerge that are much closer to consumer needs. New technologies paired with designers’ curiosity and human insight enable us at Grohe to shape the future of water.”

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