The smart researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the curious product designers at Steelcase, a furniture manufacturer, put their heads together for a new manufacturing method.
While 3D printing is the latest and greatest in the printing world, the process limits the manufacturer in the product scale, the quality of the materials and the time in which something can be produced.
This is now history – or at least soon – according to the MIT Self-Assembly Lab and Steelcase guys. They developed a 3D printing method that could revolutionize the manufacturing of large-scale objects such as pieces of customized furniture. Or bigger things, even architectural applications, according to Skylar Tibbits, the Self-Assembly Lab director. In the meantime, Steelcase has experimented with the technique to produce office furniture.
The 3D printing process uses a tank with a gel that reminds of ‘hair gel or hand-sanitizer’ from a distance, a nozzle and two material properties that are mixed together. These react chemically with each other when being extruded from the nozzle into the gel container. The nozzle is a computer-controlled robotic aperture that shoots the manufacturing-grade material such as rubber, foam, polyurethanes, or plastic, or any industrial liquid material into the gel and physically designs the desired object. The material solidifies in a blink of the eye.
This method is faster than conventional 3D printing and certainly a new way to manufacture things. Let’s see if this develops into a full-blown trend.
MIT is printing beautiful furniture in giant vats of gel
Posted by NowThis Future on Thursday, 5 October 2017
Source: photos are courtesy of Steelcase, Dezeen.