Yes, this man is 3D printing a banana. FormBox is a new invention from designer and inventor Benjamin Redford, and designer and digital strategist Alex Smilansky, who together make up London start-up Mayku. Using this machine you can create 3D plastic prints of everyday objects and use them to create new products, whether by using the plastic shape as a mould or by turning it into a product itself.
All you need to do is take a small object (I’m quite into this banana idea), place it on the metal tray and pull the heated sheet of material down onto the object. By hooking the FormBox up to your vacuum cleaner you can suck the air out from around the edge of the object to form an impression. Then, when it cools, you can cut away the excess, et voila! A banana-shaped piece of plastic to call your very own. What you do with your new toy is entirely up to you, but Mayku are envisaging that designer-makers will use them to create new product lines to add to their collections or to launch entirely new businesses.
Now, this isn’t marketed as a toy for your average busy adult with a commute and a desk job. For casual use it would be quite expensive and very time-consuming, since to make something cool you probably won’t just use the FormBox: you’ll need to then take the mould you’ve created and fill it with something like concrete, plastic or resin. Or chocolate. But for creatives and designer-makers who’re interested in exploring a new product idea, this could be a pretty quick and fun way to use stuff from around your house as a starting point. Essentially, Mayku are bringing to your desk a type of equipment that was previously only available to large-scale industry – designers can now create a prototype for their idea in minutes and then, in theory, launch their product from home without needing to organise and outsource production. It’s perfect for the dabblers of this world, who want to experiment with new ideas at a low cost.
You could use the moulds to create just about anything, the only real constraint being the size of the tray. So far, FormBox has been used to make light housings, plant pots, clocks, personalised confectionery, vases, speakers and more. I know the concrete interiors thing is a little overdone these days but these planters are very cute. I really like the geometric design they’ve gone for here but you could make them in just about any shape you can think of – all you need to do is find a material that can easily be cut to size (maybe wood, in this instance?) and then fill the mould with concrete.
If you’re interested in buying a FormBox then you can do so via Mayku’s Kickstarter page, which at has smashed its target at 800% overfunded (almost half a million dollars at the time of writing!). They’re still taking orders from that page if you want to nab one at a discount. Or, if you’re reading this after the campaign has been taken down, try their website. The introductory pre-order price is $349. Happy printing!