When Design Studio Manager for KALLISTA, Bill McKeone, started designing the new Grid faucet line, he decided to throw the traditional rules of design out of the window: Instead of building a design around known limitations of traditional manufacturing he instead designed what he envisioned and then looked for a way to manufacture it. The answer to such a unique design idea was in 3D metal additive manufacturing or what we call Direct Metal Printing (DMP).
The KALLISTA Grid sink faucet is the very first of its kind within the vast Kohler family of businesses’ product portfolio. The design defies the normal standard requirements of external housing to instead deliver an open form utilizing discreet interior channels that allow the water to flow through the base. These interior channels would be highly challenging to produce using traditional manufacturing and so the design team turned to metal 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing delivers key advantages that enable a new way of thinking about product design: For example, the ability to integrate accurate, yet miniscule, channels for fluids within a part that could not be produced using traditional methods allows for better part performance where fluids are concerned: The judicious use of latticework and voids within a part design can significantly reduce weight of a part while maintaining tensile strength requirements: The ability to build an unlimited amount of custom parts without the expense of tooling is enabling a new era of personalized products.
KALLISTA’s design and production team started working with 3rd Dimension, a high-quality production metal manufacturer specializing in 3D direct metal printing based in Indianapolis. The engineering team at 3rd Dimension worked to engineer the unique design into a single-build part ideal for metal 3D printing with focus on the integrated channels for the water. 3rd Dimension also delivers an entire shop floor team for machining, milling, and finishing to enable metal part projects to be rapidly fulfilled.
Using the 3D Systems Laserform® 316L stainless steel material on the ProX DMP 320 metal 3D printer, the 3rd Dimension team quickly created metal prototypes and then production-grade parts, and managed and executed all post-processing operations to create the stunning sink faucets we see today.