Gillette Uses 3D Printing to Unlock Consumer Personalization

Oct. 17, 2018 in News

Offering personalized experiences helps brands create emotional connections with their customers. On digital platforms, customization is everywhere. Consumers have grown used to experiences that address them directly and reflect their taste and preferences.

Physical products, constrained by the rigidity of traditional manufacturing, haven’t caught up.

New technologies are changing this paradigm, opening opportunities to skirt costs traditionally tied to producing thousands of custom parts. Now, it’s possible to connect the power of personalized digital experiences to physical products, and, ultimately, forge deeper personal connections with consumers.

Razor manufacturer Gillette is at the forefront of this wave by piloting its Razor Maker™ concept—a platform that serves as one of the first examples of direct-to-consumer, end-use 3D printed parts.

Using Formlabs Form 2 3D printers as its production engine, Razor Maker™ gives consumers the power to create and order customized 3D printed razor handles, with the choice of 48 different designs (and counting), a variety of colors, and the option to add custom text.

“Our partnership with Formlabs, and the power of their 3D printers, enable consumers to have a say on how their razors should look. We are excited to work with our Boston neighbors to pilot this breakthrough concept of customization,” said Donato Diez, global brand manager for Gillette and Razor Maker™ co-founder.


Watch the video to learn more about the story of Razor Maker™ powered by Gillette and Formlabs.

Learn how Razor Maker™ uses 3D printing to produce unique products, and how additive manufacturing can catalyze business transformation.

Unlocking Design Freedom and the Power of Personalization

The Razor Maker™ concept unleashes design freedom from designer’s desk to final product, and offers a glimpse into the future of mass-customized products.

“Combining our best shaving technology with the power and flexibility of 3D printing opens up a whole new world of product design possibilities,” said Rob Johnson, design engineer and Razor Maker™ co-founder.

With 3D printing, complexity and variety are “free”; a 3D printer takes no more time, energy, or material to manufacture a complex shape than a simple one, and zero tooling means printing a variety of designs requires no extra production costs.

3d printed razor handles sit alongside sketchbook designs and designer tools on a desk.
The design freedom unlocked by 3D printing allowed Razor Maker™ designers to draw inspiration from complex geometries found in nature, architecture, and technology.

Designers drew inspiration from geometries found in nature, architecture, and technology to create intricate shapes that would be difficult or impossible to realize through traditional manufacturing.

“It allows us to think about form in a way that was never possible before,” said Rory McGarry, industrial design lead at Razor Maker™. “In a traditional sense, we could only do one or two razor designs a year, whereas now we can have an idea, create it in 3D, print it, look at it, adjust it, and say that’s it.”

A designer draws a razor handle on a wacom tablet, and works on a razor handle design in zbrush cad software.
With 3D printing, Razor Maker™ designers are able to quickly test ideas, moving seamlessly from concept to 3D model to physical product within days.

Ultimately, the absence of design constraints fuels the ability to offer consumers freedom of choice. In a market saturated by mass-produced goods, the goal of Razor Maker™ is to offer consumers the chance to make razors that are completely their own.

“We know consumers today are looking for brands that innovate in ways that let them express themselves – and that’s exactly what this pilot is all about,” said Evan Smith, global product manager for Razor Maker™.

A Workflow for Custom Manufacturing

Pursuing such a high level of customization for Razor Maker™ required the team to completely rethink their approach to manufacturing.

The initial steps in the process are completely digital: a consumer customizes a unique handle through the Razor Maker™ website and the resulting design is converted into a 3D file. Multiple design files are then sent to a 3D printer to be simultaneously printed in a single batch. Each handle is then washed, post-cured, coated, and assembled before being shipped directly to a consumer’s door.

Formlabs stereolithography (SLA) Form 2 3D printers print multiple custom razor handle designs
Each Razor Maker handle is printed at Gillette’s Boston headquarters using Form 2 stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers.

Previously, Gillette had only applied 3D printing for prototyping, but advancements in materials and hardware have made the technology a viable options to produce end-use parts.

Ease of customization is an inherent advantage of 3D printing. The technology removes the need for tooling, requiring no up-front investment in molds and eliminating the exponential costs of producing a variety of complex designs. Plus, scaling custom manufacturing can be as easy as adding more printers. Gillette is also experimenting with automating 3D printing production processes, working with Formlabs as one of the first testers of Form Cell, a technology demonstration exploring the future of 3D printing in production environments.

More and more manufacturers are integrating technologies like desktop stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing into production workflows. Watch our webinar to explore five ways to apply 3D printing in manufacturing environments.

“The Razor Maker™ concept allows us to create a new design, print and test it, and then the next day that design becomes a new handle available on the website,” Johnson said. “That was never possible before.”

Rethinking Production, and Business Models

New technology alone isn’t enough to transform manufacturing. Companies like Gillette are leveraging 3D printing to explore entirely new business models that change the way they work across the entire product lifecycle, from design through production.

Four unique 3D printed razor handles sit on a table, in black and chrome
Through Razor Maker™, Gillette is able to offer thousands of consumers the power to design a handle unique to their lifestyle and preferences.

“For Gillette, piloting Razor Maker™ represents a crucial step in our customization journey where new technology and new business models must come together in order to deliver products that are as unique as our consumers,” Diez said.

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