IKEA has introduced a pair of 3D printed designs in its online store. The specific products are under the IKEA name “FLAMTRÄD”, which when translated into English means “Flame Trees”. There are two products: a head sculpture and a pair of hands forming a heart shape, intended for wall mounting.
Both products are hollow and use a sparse grate style design, making them unique by 3D printing technology. In fact, items do not appear in the company’s physical stores and can only be ordered online. There is one more curious thing about this development: the two products printed in 3D appear only in the IKEA Germany store.
What does all this mean? IKEA is suspected to be doing a small-scale test of the technology, process and buyer interest. They limited the project to a single region, probably to match the likely low initial demand and agreements with a supplier to produce them on request. These decorative items take hours to produce and post process. It’s not something that’s mass-produced.
The head is available in black or white material, and its price is 50 euros ($56). It has a size of 220 x 240 mm, not quite the actual size, but it is ideal to put on a desk. Hands are smaller at 90 x 130 mm, and are priced less than 40 euros (US$45).
Both items are attractive and easily fit into IKEA’s ethical design standard. They are likely to attract some attention from German buyers. If this demand grows, IKEA may launch products in other regions, or even develop other 3D printed products for sale. The fact that it is not present in stores means that the company has great flexibility in deployment in any region. They could even offer different 3D printed products in each region to match the local interest.
This is not the first time IKEA has ventured into the world of 3D printing. More than ten years ago, the company was using Objet technology to produce product prototypes. More recently, they partnered with UNYQ to produce a custom bank, launched a repository of 3D printable accessories, including a set of portable audio media. It seems that with all this experimentation, IKEA is learning a lot about how to develop, market and sell 3D printed products.