MIT's Self Assembly Lab has been developing new approaches to furniture manufacturing using new forms of high speed 3D printing, working with Steelcase and other partners. The Self-Assembly Lab is located in MIT's International Design Center, a cross-disciplinary design research center.
Another recent project in this area involves a new approach to wood bending, this one in conjunction with Autodesk. Traditional wood-bending techniques require complex steaming equipment, labor-intensive forming processes, and a high degree of expertise. In addition, the natural pattern of wood grain and its physical properties make it difficult to curve into complex shapes.
Researchers at the Boston-based lab say novel printing and composite material technologies can now overcome prior limitations of wood forming. In this video, ground wood is fed into an augur and extruder to make a fiber composite filament. This can then be printed, yielding flat sheets of custom printed wood composite can be designed to self-transform in controlled and unique ways. While the lab has used water as a medium for activation, it imagines that it will be able to create wooden composites that radically adapt to extreme environmental conditions.
The development effort was conducted by the Self-Assembly Lab, MIT, Christophe Guberan, Erik Demaine and Autodesk Inc. The project team incuded Skylar Tibbits, Christophe Guberan, Athina Papadopoulou, Carrie McKnelly, Chris Martin, Filipe Campos, Hannarae Annie Nam, and was done in collaboration with the Institute for Computational Design, University of Stuttgart.
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