Meet the New Company That's About to Change the 3-D Printing Game

Thanks to startup Kwambio, two of the buzziest terms in design—"handmade" and "3-D printing"—have finally come together. It turns out they're not as opposed as they once seemed.

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For many years, 3-D printing has been thought of as something of a novelty in the design world. Great for making plastic prototypes, sure, but not exactly a viable option for a designer using heirloom materials like clay or metal. But 3-D printing has grown leaps and bounds since the last time most people checked in on it. Kwambio, a 3-D printer and marketplace, launching today, is dedicated to using its cutting-edge 3-D printing technology to help independent artists and designers sell their work on a larger scale, while imposing far less financial stress than the typical mass production.

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"Every designer we've talked to has been super-excited," says Chad Phillips, Kwambio's creative director, who previously worked as head of retail for the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "One of the best quotes from one of the designers was, 'You have toys that you're going to let me play with? Of course I want to work with you.'"

Some of the designers and artists who've already signed up to collaborate on products with the company include Dan Michalik, Andrew Sack, Alissia Melka-Teichroew (of ByAMT), Chen Chen and Kai Williams, David Weeks, and Jim Drain. From vases to jewelry to myriad other design objects, many of the collaborations will only be available in limited runs, often at prices more affordable than the main lines. Says Phillips: "They can provide us with something as small as a napkin sketch, and within eight weeks we can have it designed, photographed, and up for sale on the site." Sounds like you may want to plan on checking back regularly, then.

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