Completed by a robot programmed to extrude material in midair, the world’s first fully 3D-printed metal furniture shows off a fresh range of possibilities for creating intricate structures and complex shapes on demand.
Employing Autodesk and an MX3D machine, Dutch designer Joris Laarman created the Dragon Bench (above) and other pieces (below) that illustrate the rich potential of metals using additives to harden as they are deployed.
With this “industrial robot [and] advanced welding machine we are able to print with metals, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze or copper without the need for support-structures. By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, we are able to print lines [horizontal, vertical and spiral] in mid air. The combination robot/welding is driven by different types of software that work closely together. This will eventually have to end up in a user friendly interface that allows the user to print directly from CAD.”
Within this series, currently on display at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City, are a set of organic (also 3D-printed) polyurethane chairs and table. Puzzle-piece parts are made first, costing around $50 – the components are assembled into a finished whole. The plans for these are also going to be made available online as free resources for anyone who wants to make their own – an easier, less material-dependent entry point for someone without access to their own metal-printing robot (at least as of yet).
The potential of this technology extends well beyond stand-alone objects – components for cars, buildings or other infrastructure could be generated using the same machines and techniques. Meanwhile, when it comes one-off custom works of either art or design, three-dimensional complexity is suddenly a much lower hurdle to overcome.