Technology has transformed possibilities and enhanced the kind of products that are on offer. 3D printing is one such area that has tremendously made a wide range of things thought to be impossible a reality. Would you believe that you may be able to personalize your office furniture and print them in minutes? Might seem to be an impossible prospect, but if you go by the development at MIT and Michigan-based Steelcase, this is certainly possible. The team has been working on a 3D printing technology that can facilitate large-scale manufacturing of office furniture.
Termed as “Rapid Liquid Printing,” it can create comparatively large objects in a few minutes. This can be done by using materials that are typically used for several industrial processes. The overall system is drastically different from the conventional 3D-printing setups. It begins with the large tank of gel instead of the slow printing processes that were previously done layer by layer. It uses a nozzle attached to a CNC machine to extrude a two-part liquid polyurethane inside the gel. This eventually mixes the two liquids together allowing the creation of a solid object in a few minutes. Lastly, the printed material gets removed from the gel and is washed off using water. It does not need any curing process after the creation of the object.
As per Skylar Tibbits, co-director of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, the material is produced in such a quick time that it cannot be matched with any other existing 3-D printing methods. The method prints objects by the use of industrial liquid materials instead of printing layers with the use of supportive materials.
Steelcase’s Role in Developing This Wonderful Technology & Why manufacturers should be caring about this new technology
As stated by Rob Poel, director of New Business Innovation at Steelcase, the company is looking to invest in interesting opportunities. With a rapid rise in the demand for personalized and customized office furniture, more and more companies are looking for ways of attracting employees. RLP can certainly be one of those.
Tibbits believes that once the technology comes in practical implementation, there’ll be nothing like it on this planet. RLP does away with the conventional issues like slow printing, utilization of different materials and limited capacity of printing large materials. These three had been one of the major drawbacks of 3D printing technology lately.
Additionally, it opens a plethora of opportunities for creating a new kind of 3D printing technology that makes it possible to create a single object in a number of dimensions. For designers, this could be a fascinating new invention that would support the creation of dynamic shapes without the use of traditional 3D printing support materials and structures.
However, the overall technology is in its early days and one should not expect it to be a reality in a very quick time period. Although the process has been created and exhibited at Milan’s Furniture Fair, there is some work still to be done before it could actually be made commercial.
Image credit: CecilKing