Aectual Offers Circular Interior Design Using 3D Printing

Published on February 1, 2023 by Claire S.

3D printing has a wow factor; it appeals as a unique selling point for the production of many kinds of pieces, both industrial and consumer, and for a range of applications from art and design to engineering. One example of a company showcasing this brilliance is Aectual (pronounced like Actual), a Dutch architecture and interior design firm offering sustainable pieces created in a circular process. Their website offers a range of eco-friendly products, from small objects for home and garden such as plant pots, to large room dividers. Aside from consumer goods, Aectual has an impressive portfolio of corporate collaborations including Disney and Nike, offering them the opportunity to use their creative talent and technical 3D printing skills for architectural showpieces. To learn more about Aectual’s vision and exciting projects, we spoke to Hedwig Heinsman, Co-founder and Creative Director of the firm.

3DN: Could You Introduce Yourself and Your Link With 3D Printing?

I’m an architect and co-founder of Aectual, together with Hans Vermeulen and Martine de Wit, both architects as well. Some 15 years ago, while running our architecture firm DUS at the time, we became very fascinated with 3D printing. We saw it as a means to really revolutionize the building industry, on so many levels, from limiting waste, upcycling waste materials, and working with local materials, to increasing design possibilities and introducing mass customization. This led us to develop one of the World’s first large scale 3D printers at the time, and also to initiate the 3D Print Canal House Project, a design-and build research project that explored new housing solutions via XL 3D printing. We received so much interest and questions from other designers and industry professionals, that we decided to share our technology via a new platform, Aectual, where Hans is CEO, Martine head of product and I have the role of creative director. 

Hedwig Heinsman is one of the founders of Aectual

3DN: What Is The Idea Behind Aectual?

Aectual creates fully circular interior objects and systems via XL 3D printing. We bring a growing catalogue of fully customizable systems, such as brise soleils, wall panelling, and flooring, and objects such as large planters, privacy screens, and stools. After use, our products can be returned, and we shred and reprint them into new products. This way, our products are fully circular and ‘updated’ constantly, resulting in better and better products over time. We notice that workplace, retail, and hospitality designers are very happy with our solutions since we really fulfil their need to create more sustainable and circular designs.

3DN: What Is the Design Process?

An easy design process is key. That is why we make a distinction between objects and systems. Objects, individual furniture, can be instantly customized via our online configurators. Systems, on the scale of the building, for instance large blinds connected to a glass façade, are generated to fit exactly to the design. Our users upload their floor plan and select their system of choice and they receive a custom generated design and tailored quote in 48 hrs.

3DN: What Value Does 3D Printing Bring to Your Projects?

3D printing and circular manufacturing go hand in hand. We create products from waste, creating no waste in the process, and after use we take the products back for shredding, and we then 3D print again into new smarter products. Because the design and manufacturing are both done digitally and we generate more and more data, our products get smarter and smarter over time. 3D printing is really the foundation of our circular products and platform.

3DN: Can You Tell Us About Any Future Projects?

We pride ourselves in being the World’s largest platform for circular 3D printed furniture and finishes, working with great clients such as Hermes, Disney, Nike, and BMW, and renowned designers such as Patricia Urquiola, Zaha Hadid Architects, and MVRDV. Right now, we are particularly excited about our partnership with Tetra Pak. They produce almost 200 billion drink cartons every year and we recently launched a range of products made from recycled drink carton material, that they will use in all their global offices and that are now available to everyone. We look forward to working on lots of projects with this new solution. [This project with Tetra Pak will see Aectual make a collection of interior objects, designed entirely of PolyAl (polymers and aluminium from recycled cartons, with the appearance of concrete but a high degree of versatility)].

Aectual collaborated with Nike London to design a wall for the store in Oxford Street

3DN: Any Last Words For Our Readers?

We’re always open to collaborate and exchange ideas! So do drop us a line via [email protected]. We plan to expand production the coming years in EMEA and USA and we are particularly interested in talking to prospect manufacturing partners. And interior designers and architects are of course welcome anytime to request info for their projects!

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*All photos credit: Aectual

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