Unveiling the prototypes of the winning LED light designs made with the 3D printer!

 Winners | Design Specs | About 3D Printing | How to Enter | Entry Conditions | Entries | Overview | Prototype Report  |

Transforming two dimensional sketches into real LED lights using the 3D laser printer!

Free a Bulb!—this LED light design contest called for unique light designs that went above and beyond the conventional shape and form of the light bulb as we know it. The judges selected three outstanding designs to transform into actual LED lights using the 3D printer.

The competition called for sketches which would be used to reproduce the light with the 3D printer and the highlight of the competition was seeing just how the creators’ sketches were transformed into 3D form using the printer. The judges for this contest, including designer Kentaro Kato and staff from K’s DESIGN LAB, specialists in 3D creation, shared with us some of their experiences and challenges in reproducing the sketches in 3D form. They also include some photos of the finished LED lights.

Title of works: The ATOM – LED Light Fitting
Creator: Justin Boyd





▲This impressive design, titled THE ATOM, is made up of a number of bulbs joined together to form one light. The light has two parts—the inner part of the fitting uses a milky white bulb and this is incased in a clear shell. The light, with its original and unique design, can be hung or can sit on a table top.

Kato:This entry took a really long time to recreate in 3D form.

Ide (K’s DESIGN LAB): The creator Justin Boyd sent in the 3D printer design data, but when we actually made it we discovered that it was a really challenging design and required us to remake the data. In order to express the two-layered approach of the design, we had to use two methods to create the prototype. The first method was to use our original texturizing approach called D3 Texture* on the inner bulb. This gave the inner casing a rough texturized look compared to the smooth shiny finish of the outer shell which appeared clearer and presented a contrast of the two casings. The other method we used was to create it in 3 layers and cover the 2nd layer in a thin wax to produce an opaque white appearance.

Komaki (K’s DESIGN LAB):The second method of using wax was really challenging and we made 4-5 attempts before getting it right. Even then, it took about 40 hours in total to make one. There were times when we would have success with the prototype, but not with the actual final production, but in the end it was worth the challenge. We really struggled with how to portray the double-layering.

Kato:Despite the creator’s request for the outer shell to be clear, we discovered that it is very difficult to create clear materials with the 3D printer. But, we were able to do it in the end by using a 3-layered approach and inserting something inside the shell. It’s quite a promising approach.
We had to use special smaller lights for this as using the LED bulbs as specified in the design requirements meant that the finished product was too big. It’s not perfect, but we think it turned out pretty well in the end.

Title of works:cocoon bulb




▲This design looks like a thread has been wrapped around and around a light bulb. We were all really looking forward to seeing how it would turn out when this design, which looks like a natural cocoon, was brought to life with the 3D printer.

Kato:The sketch looks like a piece of thread or string has been wrapped around and around a light bulb. The reason that this sketch was selected as one of the winners is because the design is really organic, yet the shape of the bulb is controlled using the digital data. If you were to make this using another method other than the 3D printer, you would need to first make a mold and then wrap the string around it. For this design, the team at K’s DESIGN LAB proposed a little additional touch from an engineering perspective and that was to put the woven threaded part on the inside of a smooth outer shell. This was due to the fact that the shape didn’t lend itself to being made with a mold and also to add a playful touch whereby the threaded pattern couldn’t be seen when the light was turned off.

Ide: We made it so the outer shell was smooth and the thread was wrapped around on the inside giving it a texturized silhouette when the light is turned on. We attempted to make it so the thread couldn’t be seen at all when the light was turned off, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do this.

Komaki: When we made it with the thread on the inside, in some parts the thread would break depending on how we did it. We did a number of test runs and tried to control the edges to find the most attractive silhouette possible. Looking at the design data we anticipated a really beautiful outcome, but in actual fact we really struggled when we couldn’t get this design just right.

Kato:By putting the thread pattern on the inside of the shell, we created a work of art that can only be brought to life with the 3D printer.

Title of works: Le(E)Ape!
Creator: Max Leegel Wight




▲This light is inspired by images of a glowing Tarzan or gorilla hanging from the cord. The light shade is a large gorilla holding on to its child (baby gorilla). This submission evoked a great deal of conversation among the judges during the final selection.

Kato:Character-inspired lights are a completely new genre for us. It was a real challenge for us to see how closely we could replicate the creator’s simple design. Without a doubt though, this design has a great deal of impact!

Yamaguchi (K’s DESIGN LAB):When we were creating the design data, we spent a lot of time making sure that the gorilla actually looked like a gorilla. We even referenced pictures of gorillas and orangutans when making the data. The creator’s sketch was really simple, and so we wanted it to look as real as possible and not just a cute character-like monkey. We used resin inside to make sure the light was centered in the baby gorilla section.
We also had to try and get the texture just right to make it look real. We ended up texturizing both the inside and outer shells, so that when it was on it looked three-dimensional. I hope that we have been able to make this as the creator intended and I would love to be able to see their reaction when they see it for the first time. It took us the best part of a week to finalize this one from creating the data to completing the light.

Kato: This piece is more like art than a design. Thanks to art and the 3D printer’s capabilities, I feel this entry has opened up a whole new genre of lighting.

▲ (In the above photo clockwise) Designer Mr. Kato, Digital Sculptor Ms. Yamaguchi, K’s DESIGN LAB’s Ms. Ide, and Digital Sculptor Ms. Komaki. Here they are smiling as they look at the finished lights.

So, what do you think of the finished lights?

We realized just how important the role of the digital sculptor is in creating the 3D data from the two dimensional design sketch. It’s not just simply a matter of printing the light once with the 3D printer. It’s a process of trial and error that includes numerous attempts to resolve problem areas and print and reprint. Time and experience are needed in order to discover the best way to bring the design to life. Perhaps the best way to bring the 2D design to life is to have the creator of the sketch work together directly with the digital sculptor.
This contest uncovered opportunities for digital sculptors to really strive in their fields by presenting them with the challenge of bringing other creators’ unique ideas to life. We look forward to seeing how this contest goes on to influence the thinking of creators who have mainly worked in the two-dimensional realm and how they incorporate 3D technology in their work moving forward.

※ D3 Texture
Up until now, it wasn’t possible to include texture details in the data and fully digitalize the production process when using 3D CAD tools. But, thanks to the support of K’s DESIGN LAB which helped to bring the sketches for this project to life in 3D form, we were able to incorporate texture into the designs and express fine texture details in the data using the voxel modeler called FreeForm.

page top

Related article

  • img

    Get ready for PauseDraw × SKETCH NOTE Tokyo & Kyoto!

    How’s that person beside me drawing? Let’s get together and draw! 【NEWS】 The event will be also held in Kyoto on 29th To commemorate the release of the only SKETCH NOTE in the world that can produce notes, we will be getting together for the sketching event PauseDraw × SKETCH NOTE on Sunday May 22n…

  • img

    Event Report “ Drawing To Go – Grab a cup of coffee and draw ! ”

    On Saturday, October 10th, we held “Drawing To Go,” a workshop where participants used coffee cups as their canvases.“Drawing To Go” is a project by illustrator Mariya Suzuki in which sceneries and people are drawn on disposable coffee cups.What sorts of scenes will appear on the cups, from the eyes…

  • img

    Strange Creatures? – Monsters and Creatures Artwork Feature

    Artwork by JerkyIs that an imaginary animal or a life form born by the whim of God?With Halloween approaching, Loftwork.com has decided to unearth and present “strange creatures” that do not fit existing biological categories.This feature will be running from October 12th through November 1st.We’d…

page top