3-D printing extends to home decor

Laura Pearson
Chicago Tribune

Like replicators on “Star Trek” — machines that materialize tomato soup and “Tea, Earl Gray, hot” for peckish starship crew members — 3-D printing has a distinctly sci-fi feel. While not a new technology, the process of producing solid, three-dimensional objects sans tool or molds isn’t ubiquitous either. Hence, the fantasy element.

“It’s like magic,” says animator Dave Lobser in a video for 3-D printing company Shapeways, “(It’s) being able to take things that only exist on screens and turn them into real objects that you can hold.”

Shapeways is headquartered in New York and, since 2007, has provided manufacturing services to thousands of creative types, like Lobser, who upload their 3-D designs to, choose from dozens of materials and finishes — e.g., sandstone, porcelain, 14-karat gold and bronze — then wait for their objects to be reviewed, printed and shipped.

One section of the Shapeways marketplace is devoted to 3-D-printed home accessories and decor, many of which are both inventive and useful: from offbeat cookie cutters and chopsticks holders to air plant vases and geometric lamps.

Among the more high-caliber objects are pinhole lampshades by Dutch designer Studio Jelle. These minimalist, gridlike pieces, made of strong white nylon plastic with a matte finish, are in line with the industrial trend in modern lighting. Starting at $81, a shade can be used as either a pendant lamp or positioned on the floor for an even more mod look.

Shop already-printed items, or print your own at