Additive manufacturing continues to find new architectural and interior design applications, with use cases such as custom furniture increasingly popular with consumers.
3D printer maker Flashforge has demonstrated how its 3D printing technology can help optimize furniture design and production processes while finding more applications for additive manufacturing in the industry.
“As competition in the market becomes increasingly severe, our success depends on our ability to bring better products to market in a shorter time and at a lower cost,” said Mr. Lee, R&D director for the undisclosed furniture maker. “Earlier this year, we integrated 3D printing into the prototyping phase. It gave us a lot more benefits than we expected. The time per prototyping is reduced to two to three days from the previous seven to 10 days, and the previous annual cost of prototyping was $ 30,000.
“We can hardly say how much we could save with the one-time cost of a 3D printer. More importantly, keeping the prototyping work in-house takes the worry out of protecting intellectual property.
Advantages of 3D printing furniture
As a rule, the furniture production industry uses traditional processes of molding, production and design of accessories to mass-manufacture items in large numbers. However, these methods may leave little room for customization or flexibility at the design stage.
According to Flashforge, the consumer market is moving further and further away from this model towards more individualized furniture that can be uniquely personalized to suit an individual’s taste. Because of its flexibility, 3D printing can meet this demand in a much shorter time frame than most conventional methods allow.
3D printing also allows for rapid prototyping during the design process and can open up a wide variety of material options. By integrating additive manufacturing into their production lines, furniture makers could potentially achieve much faster cycle times and lower costs.
Speed up furniture production
Flashforge identified three areas in furniture production that could be improved with its 3D printing technology, namely cycle time, process flexibility and variety of materials. The company did a case study with an undisclosed furniture maker to improve these elements in their production process.
The furniture manufacturer in question has its own production line and factory, and wanted to optimize two aspects of its production. First, the company has identified that the furniture industry is material intensive, resulting in high material costs that it wants to reduce. Second, the company observed that complicated manual operations in its production process resulted in inaccurate working hours and delivery issues.
To address these sticking points, Flashforge devised a plan to apply its 3D printing technology to a specific area of the manufacturer‘s production, specifically its beach, garden and camping furniture. Flashforge then used its Creator 4 3D printer to print plastic parts for furniture, such as T-joints or rollers, and compared the benefits of the 3D printing process to the manufacturer’s existing production methods.
3D print furniture with the Creator 4
Launched last month, the Creator 4 3D Printer is a high performance FDM system designed with flexibility and adaptability at the forefront. Featuring an Independent Dual Extrusion (IDEX) configuration and a large build volume of 400 x 350 x 500mm, the machine offers advanced functionality to design, engineering and manufacturing companies looking to achieve both functional prototyping and end-use production applications.
Flashforge deployed Creator 4 for the project because of its ability to shorten the time between design and production of a sample part, and in turn, lower costs. According to Flashforge, its 3D printers can cut cycle times by five to seven days, delivering a “near-perfect” sample in a dramatically shortened set-up time.
Flashforge’s 3D printing technology also allowed the furniture maker to make changes to a sample anytime during the design process, unlike traditional tedious processes that only allow a small adjustment each time. ‘a sample is produced.
According to Flashforge, within 30 days of the furniture maker receiving the Creator 4 3D printer, it was able to continue producing stable samples. Over 5,000 hours of continuous printing with the machine’s print chamber remaining at a constant temperature of 65 ° C would have provided an “excellent” condition for component production. Meanwhile, the optimization on the xyz axis made the details of the parts more and more precise.
The last production area for the furniture maker that Flashforge sought to target was the variety of materials. Considering the different requirements of the furniture, such as comfort, strength and stability, the plastic in question must also be varied to meet these specific needs. The most common material used in such applications is ABS and ASA, but for future expansion Flashforge identified that a multi-material printer was needed.
After the Creator 4 went into production, the furniture maker found that PLA-CF (carbon fiber) and ABS worked well for required applications. Thanks to its carbon fiber reinforcement, PLA-CF is stronger than regular PLA while remaining lightweight. The material could also prevent shrinkage during the printing process.
In most cases, Flashforge observed that ABS would fit most parts produced by the manufacturer and printed the project parts in ABS. The furniture maker was able to produce components on a large scale and in a thin film, as the Creator 4’s three extruders could be changed at any time throughout the production process.
Throughout the project, Flashforge provided trainings and presentations to the furniture manufacturer to ensure the optimal use of its 3D printing technology in the production process.
Just as the undisclosed furniture maker benefited from Flashforge’s Creator 4 3D printer, so do manufacturers of other plastic products, such as baby strollers, automotive components, electrical appliance parts, and industrial parts, could also see gains in their prototyping and low-average production processes. Manufacturers who invest in Creator 4 can benefit from a one-year warranty, comprehensive training, and lifetime support.
Flashforge recently shipped the first batch of its Creator 4 3D printers to suppliers in European countries, with more heading to the region in December. Those interested in learning more about Flashforge machines can contact the company’s sales team or visit the Flashforge website.
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Featured Image Shows a furniture component 3D printed on Creator 4. Photo via Flashforge.