Consumer Products

KOKUYO and Kabuku launch limited edition range of 3D printed stationery in Japan

THINK OF THINGS, a lifestyle store in Tokyo, is to feature a limited range of 3D printed office accessories. The product of a partnership between the store’s founder, KOKUYO Co., Ltd., and fellow Japanese 3D printing service provider Kabuku Inc., these so-called “TRANS TOOLS” are designed to transform ordinary objects with whole new purposes.

The product range is served by Kabuku’s on-demand manufacturing service Kabuku Connect, and sales will be used by KOKUYO to seek the possibility of new long-term introductions to its merchandise.

3D printed chair toolbox from the TRANS TOOLS range at THINK OF THINGS. Image via Kabuku & KOKUYO
3D printed chair toolbox from the TRANS TOOLS range at THINK OF THINGS. Image via Kabuku & KOKUYO

The line between work, play and 3D printing 

Founded in 1920, KOKUYO is a Japanese holding company that provides the market with  stationery, office furniture and services for mail-order and retail. Its lifestyle store and cafe THINK OF THINGS, which also recently had a pop-up version in London, was launched by the company as a direct point of contact for its customers. The store is themed on the motto “Beyond boundaries between Work and Life” which is realised by offering customers studio space, a place to socialise, and of course, a place to shop.

Kabuku, on the other hand, is a company that provides its customers with on demand manufacturing services, additive manufacturing workflow management, and the 3D printed object marketplace Rinkak.

Transforming office accessories 

Through the TRANS TOOLS collaboration the two companies sought to combine their expertise. As such, the companies state, “Kabuku and KOKUYO focused on the spaces and surroundings of stationery and furniture, which are KOKUYO’s main product categories, and designed tools that could fill up the spaces or expand the way customers use them.” The result is a selection of often bright blue-colored office accessories that you never knew you needed (and perhaps still don’t.)

One of the objects is a chair toolbox – a row of interlocking pen pots made to fit across the open arm of a swivel chair (pictured above). Another, is a set of stackable, and clip-able trays suitable for storing your paperclips, drawing pins or, if you’re anything like us, miscellaneous 3D printed objets.

The TRANS TOOLS clip trays. Photo via Kabuku & KOKUYO
The TRANS TOOLS clip trays. Photo via Kabuku & KOKUYO

Together the companies have also cleverly designed a range of pens the fit perfectly on the cover, or within the spiral binding of KOKUYO’s notebook range. Our favourite though has to be the handle they have made that can hold up to 20 pens all at once. We’re calling this the “Rainbow Maker.”

The muti-pen TRANS TOOL available at THINK OF THINGS. Photo via Kabuku & KOKUYO
The muti-pen TRANS TOOL available at THINK OF THINGS. Photo via Kabuku & KOKUYO

All of the office tools in this range are seemingly 3D printed using SLS technology, and recovered using a shot peening method.

3D printing for consumer goods

These products from KOKUYO and Kabuku are demonstrative of a wider trend of applying 3D printing throughout the consumer good industry. More than a gimmick though, the value of such products is in the fact that 3D printing is gradually rising to become an effective manufacturing tool for mass customised goods.

Another company taking a 3D printing approach in stationery specifically, is UK based Batch.Works that recently introduced its products to the Paperchase chain of highstreet stores.

Elsewhere, in beauty, leading German OEM EOS is providing the brush tips of Chanel’s Le Volume Révolution mascara. And, though a limited run, Gillette and Formlabs recently ran the RazorMaker campaign, giving consumers custom, 3D printed razor handles for the price of just $20.

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Featured image shows detail of the RANS TOOLS 3D printed clip tray. Photo via Kabuku & KOKUYO