The use of 3D printing for manufacturing furniture is on the rise. It has allowed commercial furniture manufactures to 'manufacture-on-the-go'. Depending on the material and design to be constructed, 3D printing can be done within 1 to 24 hours.
This involves taking a customer’s design ideas, developing them with CAD software and feeding these designs to a 3D printer for immediate renderings or production. Since 2013 IKEA has been incorporating similar practices using its Home Planner Software to make customers ‘dreams a reality’.
Image Courtesy of The Verge
This not only simplifies manufacturing but, in the future, will likely eliminate the use of return policies in the furniture making industry.
IKEA is not alone in its adoption of 3D printing technology. Last year, Spanish company, Nagami revealed four avant-garde, 3D-printed chairs at Milan Design Week which were designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Ross Lovegrove and Daniel Widrig.
The Middle East has been quick to adopt the technology too. According to the Dubai Future foundation, an initiative by the Government of Dubai, 3D printing will be a USD 300 billion industry by 2025 with 2.8 billion 3D-printed consumer products in the market by 2025.
Moreover, the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman Ben Abdul Aziz Al-Shahat, witnessed the signing of a memorandum of cooperation for extensive 3D printing construction operations between the Saudi Almobty Construction Group and house 3D printing pioneer Winsun (Ying Chuang).
Image Courtesy of World Architecture
Saudi Arabia will work with Winsun to build 30 million square meters of 3D printed construction projects, the deal is valued at 10 billion yuan (roughly 1.5 billion US dollars).
It’s no wonder the furniture manufacturing and construction industry is moving in this direction. Reports suggest 3D printing technology can cut up to 50% of costs and reduce waste in the manufacturing process thus improving economic returns and sustainable practices.
“This technology can open up a lot of opportunities, such as reducing the time of construction, implementation of almost limitless designs and shapes, potential to use eco-friendly materials, and [achieving] machinery precision,” Sergey Nefedov, Head of Technology at Apis Cor - an American company that specialises in on-the-spot mobile construction.
Furniture manufacturing has traditionally required significant time and financial investment especially in the design process. Prototypes have to be made, models tested and pieces reworked to reach a final product. 3D printing streamlines, simplifies and reduces the cost of designing furniture. Being able to create furniture prototypes quickly and inexpensively with 3D printing enables designers to test their creations more thoroughly and maximize the beneficial features in the finished product.
In addition to giving designers the ability to create furniture that’s simply not possible to make by traditional methods, 3D printing has made it cheaper for new businesses to enter the furniture game. Less design and production expenses equates to furniture that can quickly be made available to consumers at a lower price on both ends. It’s truly a win-win for designers, manufacturers and consumers.
Custom designed furniture has historically been cost prohibitive because of the costs involved on the business end, but printed furniture eliminates some of that burden. Not only is designing prototypes made easier with this technology, getting finished pieces to customers is as well. They can choose their preferred colors, styles, and other customized options without adding any additional cost to the manufacturing process.
While 3D printing will change many segments of the furniture industry, it won’t replace traditional manufacturing or upholstery entirely. Those who prefer classic designs or pieces crafted of exotic woods and materials are unlikely to start favoring the very modern style of furniture that 3D printing produces. However, consumers who want their furniture to look like a trendy Pinterest board, custom artwork, or minimalist piece will find it very easy to love 3D printed furniture, which gives 3D printing in the furniture manufacturing industry great potential.
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