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Creating novel furniture through topology optimization and advanced manufacturing

Jiaming Ma (Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Zhi Li (Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Zi-Long Zhao (Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Yi Min Xie (Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 4 August 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021

591

Abstract

Purpose

Furniture plays a significant role in daily life. Advanced computational and manufacturing technologies provide new opportunities to create novel, high-performance and customized furniture. This paper aims to enhance furniture design and production by developing a new workflow in which computer graphics, topology optimization and advanced manufacturing are integrated to achieve innovative outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

Workflow development is conducted by exploring state-of-the-art computational and manufacturing technologies to improve furniture design and production. Structural design and fabrication using the workflow are implemented.

Findings

An efficient transdisciplinary workflow is developed, in which computer graphics, topology optimization and advanced manufacturing are combined. The workflow consists of the initial design, the optimization of the initial design, the postprocessing of the optimized results and the manufacturing and surface treatment of the physical prototypes. Novel chairs and tables, including flat pack designs, are produced using this workflow. The design and fabrication processes are simple, efficient and low-cost. Both additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing are used.

Practical implications

The research outcomes are directly applicable to the creation of novel furniture, as well as many other structures and devices.

Originality/value

A new workflow is developed by taking advantage of the latest topology optimization methods and advanced manufacturing techniques for furniture design and fabrication. Several pieces of innovative furniture are designed and fabricated as examples of the presented workflow.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors received financial support from the Australian Research Council (FL190100014 and DE200100887).

Citation

Ma, J., Li, Z., Zhao, Z.-L. and Xie, Y.M. (2021), "Creating novel furniture through topology optimization and advanced manufacturing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 9, pp. 1749-1758. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-03-2021-0047

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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