AMS Spring 2023

Interior Furnishings 3D Printed from Old Drink Cartons Displayed at Milan Design Week

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Dutch additive design firm Aectual uses 3D printing to create sustainable, customizable architecture products, like flooring, sound diffusion panels and room divider screens, canopies and pavilions, clothes hangers, and more. The company, which is backed by investment and advisory firm Future Shape, puts a high value on circular products, and some of the 3D printed pieces from its new Drink Carton Collection are currently on display at Milan Design Week. The concept line is a series of customizable 3D printed interior objects and finishes, including planter walls, partition screens, wall cladding, and seat poufs, made from recycled Tetra Pak drink carton material.

“Almost 200 billion beverage cartons are produced every year and there are an estimated 5 billion buildings in the world. So, what if we were to turn those cartons into high-value architectural material and decrease the need for virgin material used for building and furnishing our daily living and workspaces?” asked Hans Vermeulen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Aectual. “I’m positive that our collab with Tetra Pak marks a future where reclaimed and circular materials will become the standard in interior design.”

Aectual creates circular, made-to-measure, customizable architecture products with its zero-waste, on-demand digital production network, and, through its take-back service, will reuse materials up to ten times. Together with its partner network, the firm is committed to speeding up the global transition to a 100% way of fabricating buildings, and making beautiful, smart design easy, while also reducing its use of CO2 up to 80%. Its products are 3D printed using Fused Granular Fabrication (FGF) technology, which is based on pellet extrusion via a robotic arm 3D printing system.

The firm’s mission shines through in its Drink Carton Collection, which demonstrates what Aectual refers to in a press release as a “second-life value” for commercial, living, and work environments. Tetra Pak has committed to using Aectual’s interior furniture and finishes in its offices, and other partners also appreciate the firm’s values and aesthetics.

“We love custom architecture, but it’s typically slow, costly and can generate lots of waste. Aectual’s proven technology lets designers and architects develop unique interior objects and finishes in a matter of weeks, using fully recyclable materials,” said Tony Fadell, Principal at Future Shape, Founder of Nest, and inventor of the iPod. “This technology takes the circularity and sustainability of interior design to a whole new level.”

The products in this collection come from the Aectual X Tetra Pak Drink Carton concept line, which uses fully circular materials; at the end of their life, the products are shredded and 3D printed into new ones. One of the pieces is the Planter Screen by Aectual Studio, which features 3D printed patterns that also serve as pockets for plants—instead of just putting a potted plant on your desk or counter, you can place it in one of these attractive pockets. In addition, the screen can be made-to-measure for use as a feature wall, or used as a self-standing divider. The Planter Screen resembles ceramic due to its terracotta color and matte look, and is 3D printed out of PolyAl. This material is a mixture of polymers and aluminum that comes from the recycled inner foils of drink cartons.

The House of DUS, another Aectual partner, designed the Gradient Curve Screen. The system, which is made up customizable cells that open or close gradually for an interesting gradient effect, can be used to create window screens, feature walls, room dividers, or furniture panels. The 3D printed partition casts some interesting shadows, and depending on where you place it, offers a good amount of privacy.

Finally, the Puff Poufs by Aectual Studio, also printed out of PolyAl, can be used as coffee tables or seating elements, and are fully configurable. They’re available in 17 colors, and even though they kind of resemble a cactus, they’re apparently much more comfortable than the spiky plants. I’m in the middle of redoing my home office—I just got a new desk, and I’m looking for a rug and a comfy chair to turn the other half of the room into a reading nook—and I think one of the small pink poufs would be just perfect for the space I’m envisioning.

You can see 3D printed pieces from the Aectual X Tetra Pak Drink Carton Collection during Milan Design Week at the Masterly Milano, Palazzo Francesco Turati, Via Meravigli 7, until June 12th.

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