The first phrase that comes to mind on hearing ‘contract furniture’ is traditionally unlikely to be cutting edge, with experimentation & innovation often considered the reserve of designer artists or multinational organizations; With the launch of the Rio collection at LDF 2015, featuring the first 3D printed chair for the commercial sector, Morgan set out to challenge this assumption and look at the possibilities of this new additive manufacturing process.
At our seminar on Tuesday 26th January in the London showroom, Mehran Gharleghi from studio INTEGRATE presented the evolving role of 3D printing and sparked a lively debate afterwards in the Q&A.
Mehran explained the different methods of 3D printing and their potential applications. From his viewpoint as a designer, he impressed the need to understand these in order to truly innovate and make the most of the technology. It narrows the gap between manufacturer and designer, with the most complex R&D being the material that goes into the machine to achieve the desired aesthetic and performance characteristics. There are many closely guarded formulas for these.
We were all inspired and enthused by what the future and, in some cases, the present holds for 3D printing.
Imagine, a world where we all have a home 3D printer so when we need a new part for the washing machine or lose a nozzle for the vacuum cleaner we just press print!
Imagine, 3D printing in space. Will 3D printers be able to use lunar soil, known as regolith, as a building material for the residential units in order to address challenges of transporting materials to the moon?
By using 3D printing technologies, transportation of goods across boundaries and continents becomes much easier. This will open up lots of opportunities for remote parts of the world to benefit from new innovations and improve their living conditions. 3D Printing can revolutionize architecture of challenging environments such as desert by utilizing sand as the building materials and concentrated beams of Sun as the ultimate source of energy for sintering.
The applications are diverse and mind-blowing. Think of a 3D printed aeroplane and in the field of medicine, 3D printed scaffolding that can be implanted into the body and dissolve once the body has healed, skin that attaches and grows, even a human liver!
In reality. Today. What do we think? Well we love that 3D printing has the ability to democratise design. The machines work with a similar logic, so we can all have that knowledge. It also gives us the potential to make custom and one off pieces a reality in mass production – like our new RIO chair. It allows variable stiffness, so an object like a shoe can be rigid in certain parts and flexible in others, all in one print.
There is major tendency towards creating more usable objects that are 3D printed as opposed to just high art creations. With the development alongside CNC and robotics, moving parts will also become possible, so the future is exciting. Thank you Mehran for such an inspiring talk!