How is the furniture industry being altered by 3d printing production capabilities?
According to the publication Furniture World, in a lot of ways. From prototyping to end use pieces, accessible 3d printers are allowing furniture makers to significantly speed up their time to market for new pieces and are providing customers with customization options that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
"One part of the furniture business that has traditionally required significant time and financial investment is the design process," Nathaniel Berman writes in the furniture publication. "Prototypes have to be made, models tested, and pieces reworked to reach a final product. 3D printing streamlines, simplifies, and reduces the cost of designing furniture. Being able to create lightweight furniture prototypes quickly and inexpensively with 3D printing enables designers to test their creations more thoroughly and maximize the beneficial features in the finished product."
In addition to the time savings that firms are realizing, there are environmental benefits as well. Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij was able to design and produce a chair made entirely out of plastic from old refrigerators, making use of plastic waste, of which there are thousands of tons all over the world.
"Custom designed furniture has historically been cost prohibitive because of the costs involved on the business end, but printed furniture eliminates some of that burden," Berman writes. "Not only is designing prototypes made easier with this technology, getting finished pieces to customers is as well. They can choose their preferred colors, styles, and other customized options and it won’t add any additional cost to the printing process."
Belgian furniture designer Peter Donders is an excellent example. He creates his Batoidea Chair in multiple colors, using 3d printing, and if he didn't, the chair would be cost prohibitive to make and would create an excess amount of waste.