by Paul Cantagallo
The most exciting developing technology at the moment, 3D printing continues to present us with new and fascinating ways to bring just about anything to life in solid, customizable form. Novelty is one thing, however—true innovation is another. One industry showing huge growth in relation to 3D printing is that of sex toys.
The two enterprises at the vanguard of the movement are taking very different approaches. Representing the artisanal producer, New York Toy Collective, run by Chelsea Downs and Laura Parker, now offers what they're calling the "most personalized gift ever": a replica of your penis or vagina using cutting-edge 3D modeling, 3D printing and casting in sterilizable and very flesh-like silicone. These are sex toys that are ready for immediate and vigorous action, and yes, they will also enhance.
On the other hand, Tom Nardone—the founder of several sex toy websites that cater to privacy—has embraced mass-market values by hosting free-to-download, user-generated 3D designs for adult toys to be printed at home (including the site's most popular, of Justin Bieber's head). Nardone believes that the main obstacles to putting a dildo or fake vagina in every night-table drawer the world over will be easily overcome.
First, we all need a 3D printer. As the prices of the printers fall as rapidly as any emerging technology tends to, it's easy to imagine that a home 3D printer will soon be as indispensable and affordable as a home computer. The other obstacle to DIY sex toys is also tech-related: consumer 3D printers currently "print" in neither a high enough resolution nor a suitable material to produce perfectly smooth, "body-safe" pleasure objects. But, just as it did with monitors and TV screens, the resolution of home 3D printers will increase exponentially over the next few years. As for the output material, Nardone is having some success experimenting with a sand-and-spray finishing process that he hopes will smooth and seal his pioneering penises, making them safe for penetration.
Thanks to 3D printing, sex toys are not only becoming more difinitively DIY in terms of the design process, but they're also now infinitely customizable. As Barcelona-based product designer Bernat Cuni suggests through his DILDIY project, which is working to provide customizable designs for 3D printable sex toys, the adult toy industry represents a unique opportunity for "designers to create boundaries and parameters, rather than products."
Since the tech is here or nearly here, and everybody's body is different, soon there'll be no reason to pre-manufacture a sex toy at all. Or, in Cuni's words, "we will soon be able to create an object that only exists when and where it is consumed."
Images courtesy of Cuni, Tom Nardone and the New York Toy Collective