This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.
You might think of 3D printing as an easy way to prototype new products, but it’s possible to make finished items to sell, too.
The Rogue + The Wolf is a jewellery brand selling items that draw on dark themes like witchcraft, and it has built an audience around the world. The company designs all of its products at its HQ in Huddersfield’s Media Centre and then orders 3D prints made of steel or plastic.
Co-founders Michael Tsoris and Irene Stigka are both originally from Greece and met while studying design at the University of Huddersfield. In late 2011, they realised 3D printing would be a viable way of manuafacturing sellable products. They decided jewellery had the most potential and set to work learning to use 3D modelling software.
Launched in 2012, The Rogue + The Wolf now employs seven people and has built up 322,000 followers on Instagram, the company’s main marketing channel. This has translated into an international business. Around 50 percent of customers are in the USA, 30 percent in the UK and the rest come from Europe, Australia and Canada.
A photo posted by ➕? The Rogue + The Wolf ?➕ (@rogueandwolf) on
3D printing isn’t just about speed
A partnership with Shapeways means it’s just as fast for The Rogue + The Wolf to receive one test unit of a new product as it is to get a full batch to dispatch to customers. 3D printing offers more than just speed though. It means there are no tooling costs, and product sizes can be specified down to a microscopic level. Tsoris says that a low return rate proves customers are happy with the results.
“We don’t push the fact it’s 3D printed, but we don’t hide it,” says Tsoris. “Many customers enjoy it. It’s like we’re being subversive, with an emphasis on good design.”
As a company built around the potential of new forms of manufacturing, it’s no surprise that The Rogue + The Wolf is keen to embrace other new technologies. Its office hosts an HTC Vive room-scale virtual reality setup. This allows designers to sculpt new products in VR. They sketch ideas on paper before bringing them into virtual reality where the designer can experience them, not just look at them.
“It allows perfect depth perception,” says Tsoris. “You’re designing in real space. It’s like working in clay – digital clay… it feels like the real world.”
This year, The Rogue + The Wolf plans to expand into fashion clothing. But while you might expect the company to use some fancy new technique to produce the line, it will take a conventional approach.
“We’ve had debates about this for a few years. We wanted to avoid traditional manufacturing, but now is a good time for us to get into clothing,” Tsoris says. “We think 3D printing clothing will be possible in four or five years. We’ll be ready when it’s possible.”
No matter what the future holds for The Rogue + The Wolf, they have no plans to leave Huddersfield. “It’s a nice place,” says Tsoris. “It’s a convenient place to do an online business, with low costs. Everything’s online so we don’t need to be in an area with big businesses.”
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