Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printing Furniture: Bits & Pieces

ST Medical Devices

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There is something so rewarding about eating a tomato from your own garden or wearing a scarf that you crocheted. But what if your skills lie elsewhere? Well, it can be equally satisfying to print your own furniture. There is nothing new about using 3D printing technology to design and produce furniture. However, the folks at 3Dnatives wanted to explore this idea with a twist: they wanted to print furniture using their desktop 3D printer.

10425428_327469010740736_3222885073364917972_nThere are any number of platforms available today, from which you can download data for printing. Whether it is the input for a simple object or something that requires a bit more experienced modeler, print on demand services are popping up all over the place. However, when you want to print something big, like a piece of furniture, and you only have a desktop 3D printer, you may simply feel that you are out of luck. The first instinct that most people have when scaling a design to consumer printers is to simply reduce the volume of the object to be printed. If the chair was 24” now, it will simply be an 8” model or something of that nature.

3Dnatives wanted to push the limits of their small MakerBot Replicator 2 printer and see if they couldn’t use them to make something much bigger.  The build volume listed for this machine is 28.5 L x 15.3 W x 15.5 H cm – not nearly the volume necessary for an adult’s seated furnishing. Rather than assuming that they should be resigned to needing industrial 3D printers, they created a plan for a chair that is appropriately named “Bits & Parts.” They then printed out the necessary pieces over and over again until they got it right.

article_bitsandpartsThe chair is made up of a series of interlocking puzzle pieces, each of which is printed individually and then assembled afterwards, allowing you to create something much larger than the printer from which it was produced. Once they had designed, tested, printed, assembled, and retested their piece (their log shows they spent over 347 hours printing!), they went one step further and put the files up for download on the Wevolver website so that anyone can make one (once the site moves beyond Beta).

They hope that you will be able to duplicate their creation in far less than 347 hours, however, and to that end provide a great deal of advice on how to make the entire process go smoothly. For example, they share the print settings that they used: PLA with the filler at 25% and printing speeds of 90mm/s and 150mm/s at a  temperature of 220°. The printed parts of the chair are set upon a base made of a wooden rod and greenhouse brackets, which they also describe.

IMG_1263-1024x941Their final advice regards the assembly and the need for organization, and it’s easy to see how something like this could get out of hand. They recommend that assembly begin in the center and work its way out, and they show the marking system they used to keep the pieces from getting confused.

In other words, the printing is the easy part (now that they have figured it out for you) and you are just a short while away from the satisfaction of sitting in a chair that you printed and built.

You know what they say: when life gives you filament, make a chair and sit down!

What do you think about this chair?  Is it something you would consider 3D printing and assembling?  Discuss in the Bits & Pieces forum thread on 3DPB.com.

The original design of these chairs was done by artist Joris Laarman.

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