Typically when industrial or commercial designers choose to utilize 3D printing technology it’s to develop prototypes and proof of concept designs. In fact, the fastest growing sector of 3D printer purchases is from the design market, where rapid prototyping shaves weeks and even months off of projects while often producing a better final product. However with only a few exceptions 3D printing is rarely used to create the final product for sale, and certainly not for areas where furnishings need to be sturdy enough for the general public.
Waiting room office chairs, hotel furniture and restaurant decor are used far more frequently than furnishings for the home, so they require a durability that is often incompatible with the cost of current 3D printing technology. Things are slowly starting to change however, as advanced 3D printing materials and technologies are developed, refined and ultimately begin to drop in price. Especially for high-end manufacturers which supply designer furnishing to some of the world’s top hotels and restaurants.
For Morgan Studio’s newest line of seating, the contract seating design and manufacturing company wanted to incorporate several different variations that would share the same basic structure. Their RIO line of chairs offers several different backrest options, including an upholstered back to match the rest of the chair and a natural timber option. They also offer a 3D printed option that is available with two distinct finishes.
“This is an exciting new departure for us at Morgan and indeed new for the market. 3D printing is recognised commercially for small items like jewellery and accessories and then many experimental projects but not much in between. Not yet featured in furniture for a wider audience,” said Morgan Design Director, Katerina McMahon.
The 3D printed chairs from the RIO collection were designed by Mehran Gharleghi from Studio Integrate, an architecture and design studio in London. They partnered with Morgan to create the set of striking, comfortable and durable chairs for the commercial furniture market. The delicately curved sculptural arm and back is printed using a selective laser sintering (SLS) process that is printed as a single piece. The back was made with polyamide materials and is available in a white, textured finish or with a smooth metallized resin finish.
Morgan was already developing the RIO line of chairs when they contacted Studio Integrate. They had settled on two designs, one with a timber back and another with a minimal upholstered back, however they felt that the collection needed something else and decided to bring a third chair into the collection. Mehran’s objectives were to retain the form of the existing design, but to use new 3D printing manufacturing methods to create subtle variations in each individual chair.
The lattice framework on the back of the chair is generated using a mathematical algorithm that removed as much material as possible without sacrificing the chair’s structure. It also generated the backs with small differences in the lattice pattern, so each set of six 3D printed chairs will be slightly different than the others in the set. This gives each chair a subtle variation, as if they were hand made.
“We had achieved the right shape but wanted to add something new. I removed as much material as possible to make the backrest lighter and flexible for extra comfort, while maintaining its strength. The final design resulted in a form which looks like inner structures of bone. It is nice to touch and there are no joints, even the connections to the chair base are from the same single piece of polyamide, making it incredibly strong. Each chair takes 24 hours to print,” explained Mehran.
Here is an interview with Gharleghi at the Morgan showroom:
Morgan Studio and designer Mehran Gharleghi describe the RIO collection as a line of seating that explores the craft of yesterday versus the craft of tomorrow. The collection was debuted at the London Design Festival in September and is currently on display at Morgan Studio’s Clerkenwell showroom in central London. You can find out more about the RIO line of chairs here.
Would you put 3D printed furniture like this in your office or home? Let us know in the 3D Printed Commercial Furniture Forum thread on 3DPB.com.