In the market for a new floor lamp or bedside reading light? Gantri, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of direct-to-consumer designer lights, just added a couple of new ones to its lineup. And like the rest of the company's offerings, these fixtures are made out of corn.
Billing itself as "a digital manufacturing platform for modern design," Gantri leverages 3D-printing technology to produce small scale runs of high-end light fixtures from independent studios and designers. The latest additions to the catalog range from a $148 table lamp to a $498 floor lamp and come from an American design firm called Ammunition. Browse Gantri's listings, and you'll find other fancy lamps from designers based in Canada, Colombia, Italy, Ukraine and other countries around the globe.
No matter where they come from, all of the fixtures are printed using corn-based polylactic acid, a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch. Corn PLA has been pretty standard fare in the world of 3D printing , but Gantri uses special blends developed in collaboration with ColorFabb, a 3D-printing materials manufacturer based in the Netherlands. Those proprietary blends have a much higher heat threshold than standard corn PLA, Gantri says, and they're better at diffusing light, too.
"Traditional PLA is semitranslucent, but you can also see the infill inside," explained Ian Yang, Gantri CEO. "Our diffusive PLA achieves a smooth, frosted-glass-like glow with minimal effect on color temperature of theinside."
As for the sustainability argument, corn-based PLA is biodegradable and carbon neutral, but its full environmental impact is a topic of some debate in green circles. In 2010, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that while biopolymers were indeed a more eco-friendly material than traditional, petroleum-based plastics, they were also more environmentally taxing to produce due to the chemical processing needed to break down the raw materials.
Gantri points to its manufacturing facility in California as a green-minded venture that's specifically designed to minimize industrial waste. As for the lamps themselves, each features custom-built cords and switches, as well as dimmable, "museum-quality" LEDs that promise to last 25,000 hours, which amounts to more than 20 years of use at an average of three hours per day. Gantri says that the bulbs in all of its lamps can be replaced if needed.
The newest lamps on Gantri, from Ammunition, go on sale today under three collections, Gio, Signal and Carve.
Originally published Feb. 26, 6 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:12 a.m.: Clarifies that the bulbs in Gantri lamps can be replaced.