The Self-Assembly Lab
worked with US furniture company Steelcase
to develop the process known as Rapid Liquid Printing, which involves extruding material from a computer-controlled nozzle into gel. This allows them to print large-scale structures very quickly, creating a range of possibilities for furniture production.
"In the beginning we started with this question: could you print furniture in minutes?" lab director Skylar Tibbits told Dezeen. "If you look at printing from that perspective it forces you to think about it in a completely different way." The team's aim was to tackle the three main challenges that they believe have prevented 3D printing's widespread adoption in manufacturing: speed, scale and material properties.
"Most of the time we can only print centimetre-scale structures, and for furniture, it's unfeasible," said Tibbits. "There are a couple of reasons why the properties aren't so good," he added. "Nearly every printing process utilises layers, and those layers degrade the structural property of the material compared to a consistent material all the way through."