Is 3D Printing The Future Of Furniture?

Posted: May 14 2018, 12:03pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News

Is 3D Printing the Future of Furniture?
Image: 3D Print

Everyone from corporate giants like IKEA to independent furniture designers is beginning to embrace the technology of 3D printing, but is it here to stay?

3D printing may very well represent the future of furniture. As the trend continues to increase in accessibility, consumers are becoming amenable to 3D printing as the answer to fulfilling their furniture preferences. Whether you're seeking a new bed, chair, coffee table or general decorative piece, 3D printing is becoming an increasingly realistic option — especially in the furniture industry, where personal tastes and customization are abundant.

Everyone from corporate giants like IKEA to independent furniture designers is beginning to embrace 3D printing, for a variety of reasons — here are three of them.

1. Design Flexibility

3D printing design can integrate complex geometries, unique shapes and other customization options. For consumers, the ability to sit down with a furniture maker and have very few obstacles to their design preference — instead of being held back by the furniture maker's manual capabilities — is attractive.

2. The Advantage of Lightweighting

Another advantage of 3D printing is its ability regarding lightweight objects. Lightweighting changes the density of objects, achievable through advanced 3D software and 3D printers. The ability to make an object look durable while still reducing mass — making the furniture less heavy — is another draw. Consumers will be able to carry this furniture themselves instead of hiring someone or paying an extra delivery fee.

3. New Accessibility and Acceptance

A decade ago, the notion of 3D printing producing a furniture piece in your living room probably seemed impractical. That is no longer — especially with shops like Print the Future opening in midtown Manhattan. The shop enables designers to convert ideas into 3D objects, then sell these items to consumers. The initiative is one of many that showcases 3D-printed objects as having relevance in everyday applications, even furniture.

People are now able to sit and touch a variety of 3D-printed furniture, to tell themselves it won't break simply because of its 3D process. Finally, consumers are taking 3D printing in the world of furniture seriously.

Downsides of 3D Printing

Although 3D printing is becoming increasingly accessible and has useful applications in the furniture niche, there won’t be a complete takeover of the furniture industry anytime soon. Woodworking and handmade furniture still has a unique charm, with the art of the human touch in the manufacturing process still having appeal for some consumers. Additionally, with sites like Etsy, the handmade furniture market has an abundance of options to fit everyone’s tastes. If a consumer finds handmade furniture that’s precisely the design they want, they’re unlikely to spend time on researching 3D printing.

Additionally, many materials print to either +/- 0.1 mm in accuracy, which for furniture can have a profound impact on durability. Many 3D printed furniture is entirely accurate, though the possibility exists for error, which prompts some concern.

Also, 3D printing requires specific materials. So, if something is out of stock, it can require ordering from a specialized retailer, thus delaying the manufacturing process.

Although 3D printing has some things to be wary about regarding accuracy, the technology is up-and-coming and appears poised to have a considerable influence on the future of furniture.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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