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MIT’s new 3D printing technique can produce furniture in minutes

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“Rapid liquid printing” could let you customize your office chair

3d-printed table top All photos courtesy MIT and Steelcase

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab has teamed up with the office furniture company Steelcase to pioneer an innovative 3D printing technique called “Rapid Liquid Printing.” The process enables the fast manufacturing of large-scale, custom furniture pieces by essentially “drawing” them within an enormous vat of gel. A machine-controlled nozzle extrudes liquid plastic into the 3D space of the vat. It cures within the gel, hardening within mere minutes before being hosed off and put to use.

The experimental process has already been used to produce a top for one of Steelcase’s Turnstone Bassline Tables, and promises to offer more opportunity for furniture customization in future years. Steelcase also touts the expressive freedom such a process could give to designers.

“When you’re printing freely within a gel suspension, you can create these dynamic shapes without the traditional 3D printing support material and structure,” said Steelcase senior industrial designer Yuka Hiyoshi in an interview with Forbes.

Check out the sci-fi-esque printing technique in the video: