More than three years since the devastating earthquake wrought destruction on the population of Haiti, with more than 300,000 dead, as many injured, and estimated one million people left homeless.(2)

The scale of the disaster and the plight of the people had a catalytic affect on eco-friendly furniture designer Frank Schooley, of Matlacha, Florida.

“That day, it really struck me and I thought, ‘What are those people going to do?’” says Schooley.

Schooley’s success as a designer-manufacturer provided the inspiration, experience and expertise for him to come up with an answer to his question.

The Shelter in A Day Solution

“It occurred to me that the same materials and assembly method I was using for Terrapeg™ furniture could be used to produce a form of transitional housing that was more solid and secure than the usual tents supplied in emergencies,” Schooley continues.

What Schooley came up with was the Shelter In A Day™ concept which his design and production skills made a reality – and SAi’s EnRoute versatile CAD/CAM software for machining helped to make happen.

“Tents are a good immediate response, but reconstruction takes months and years and if I could provide a secure transitional shelter at a low cost, then people would have a better living standard and be able to spend their time rebuilding and moving their lives forward, rather than guarding what possessions they had left,” he says.

Using the fiberboard he was familiar with and the Tool Free Joints developed for Terrapeg™ furniture, Schooley designed a 12 x 12-foot shelter that could be produced quickly, shipped easily and assembled within an afternoon to provide housing that was strong, long lasting, flexible and secure. The basic shelters can be extended with one or more 4 x 12-foot sections to create larger homes, classrooms, churches or clinics.

“The fiberboard, made from the earth’s most basic sustainable material, recycled wood fiber, is termite, rust and rot resistant and therefore suitable for most climates,” Schooley says. “With lockable doors and windows, these shelters are better than tents which offer scant protection from the elements and little security. With Shelter in A Day™ accommodation, people can spend their time rebuilding their lives, not protecting what they have left.”

A Solution Built on Experience

Before conceiving Shelter in A Day™, Schooley had years of varied experience as a designer and craftsman who built yacht interiors, furniture, and even musical instruments. His interest in interior design led him to cabinet-making, and in 2004, he set up Tropical Kitchens, one of the first small companies to use computer aided CNC manufacturing. A central part of his operation is SAi’s versatile EnRoute CAD/CAM software. Schooley had seen EnRoute at a trade show and the first thing that attracted him was the interface. It seemed intuitive and easy to use. Every aspect of machining can be precisely controlled and different parts can be cut in individual ways allowing quick, high quality production.”

Controlling design and manufacture enabled Schooley to meet his quality and concept objectives while also meeting his customers’ requirements. Schooley describes his approach as “a perfect blend of Old World craftsmanship, 40 years of experience and 21st century technology.”

To this is added the concept of sustainability which is reflected in the choice of materials used in his work. Apart from his own awareness of sustainability issues, the area around Matlacha, on Florida’s southwest coast, is virtually surrounded by wildlife preserves and environmental awareness is very much part of the local population’s ethos.

“Using our computerized manufacturing techniques, we can build cabinets with a minimum of waste because the EnRoute software ‘nests’ cabinet parts together on the sheets of material and can even put parts inside other parts to minimize waste further,” explains Schooley. “Because we build cabinets to order, shipping materials is minimized, and warehousing eliminated. This ‘On Time Manufacturing’ saves resources, money and accelerates delivery times.”

Tropical Kitchens uses locally sourced materials, renewable woods like bamboo, and recycles waste materials whenever possible. Today, the work of Tropical Kitchens goes beyond kitchens to bathrooms, home offices, rebuilt closets and storage areas. Moreover, Schooley’s work goes beyond cabinetry to furniture making.

“Creativity doesn’t need to take a back seat when working with EnRoute,” Schooley continued. “Whether making basic cuts, textured patterns or 3D embellishments, EnRoute’s interface enables designs to be carried out easily and with minimal material waste.”

Other benefits for users include the ability of SAi EnRoute to import files from different programs and to save and re-use toolpaths without having to set up every time.

Affordable eco-friendly furniture using renewable natural resources

Terrapeg™ extends Schooley’s design and manufacturing expertise as well as providing another application for SAi EnRoute and his computerized manufacturing capabilities. Recycled wood fiber material is used to produce stylish furniture that is both sturdy and sustainable. One of Terrapeg™ furniture’s unique features is that tables, chairs, beds, desks and other domestic and office furniture can be shipped flat-pack and assembled in minutes with only a hammer (a fiberboard hammer is included in the flat-pack) using Patent Pending “Tool Free Joints.”

“With EnRoute, I have total control of the tool path creation,” says Schooley. “Being able to save tool pathing options improves efficiency and accelerates production times.”

About 40 designs using materials from wood to fiberboard in varying thicknesses are stored and can be used and easily adapted for seamless production.

“I’m constantly amazed at what I can get my router to do using EnRoute software,” he continues. “The cabinet nesting works beautifully; my furniture nesting is driven by parameters no other software could control.

“EnRoute gives me the versatility I need to cut precise files of different thicknesses of material,” Schooley explains. “That means we can offer customers any number of material choices with low production costs.”

Schooley visited Haiti last year to see the reconstruction progress for himself. One of the needs he identified was replacing the ruined buildings of The Good Samaritan Orphanage, 45 minutes west of Port au Prince.

“The tarpaulins and tents supplied when relief efforts flooded in are in tatters now and replacements are scarce,” Schooley says.

He has designed a new facility using his Patented Shelter in A Day™ buildings combined with Terrapeg™ furniture comprising 10-12 cabins, a mess hall and bathroom/shower buildings as well as kitchen and bakery buildings. With this new technology, it is now possible to build a furnished house, (shipped flat on a pallet), a furnished clinic or a furnished school. . . anywhere, without tools or electric power, in an afternoon.

The shelters and furniture can all be made with the help of SAi EnRoute software which not only drives the router, but minimizes material waste through the combination of accurate cuts and efficient nesting.

“Since these shelters are designed for purchase by local charities, international aid organizations and government agencies, they must be confident that they are getting value for money,” concludes Schooley. “The material savings enabled by computer aided manufacturing, including the EnRoute software, helps to deliver that assurance.”

SAi EnRoute software –

The easiest CAD/CAM program to go from design to output. SAi EnRoute offers a very user friendly graphic interface to provide powerful design tools such as bitmap to vector and point editing, complete shape drawing tools, text and more. And once the design is complete, you can use saved toolpath strategies with advanced features such as inlay, smart entry/exit, rough/clean pass and more to create paths for output with just a few mouse clicks. For more high production applications, SAi EnRoute has True Shape Nesting and AutoToolpath options to help reduce programming time, cut time and to optimize material usage. Additionally, SAi EnRoute Pro offers 3D relief and surfacing capabilities. SAi software is a complete graphic, manufacturing and production software at an affordable price. Click here to learn more:

(1) 6.4ML on the Richter scale.

(2) All earthquake figures are taken from the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee)

Terrapeg and Shelter In A Day are Trade Marks of their respective companies.