11 months ago
Steelcase, a Michigan-based furniture company, and MIT have teamed up on a new 3D-printing method that produces customizable furniture in minutes with industrial liquid materials like rubber, foam, and plastic.
The technique, called “Rapid Liquid Printing,” functions like conventional 3D-printing. Instead of producing it layer by layer, the object is produced by essentially being drawn with liquid polyurethane inside a vat of gel, Forbes reports.
This allows the products to be functional after being pulled out of the gel vat—following a quick wash, of course—while most 3D-printing techniques need time to cure or bake.
Rapid Liquid Printing was able to produce a structure in ten minutes that took 50 hours to print using conventional techniques. No matter how complex the product may be, it doesn’t require additional support materials—another advantage to the technique.
For now, it’s still an experiment, but MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and Steelcase have big plans. “In the far future, large scale objects could be printed in minutes instead of day,” Yuka Hiyoshi, turnstone senior industrial designer, said in a press release. “Also, it’s not limited to typical 3D printing material making the technology very desirable from a design perspective.”