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Sustainable Digital Furniture Manufacturing Using 3D Printing Robot

Ongoing

Project description

The current furniture manufacturing has been slow to adopt the latest manufacturing technologies, relying heavily upon specialised conventional machinery.  This approach requires high levels of specialist knowledge, training and capital investment.  It also suffers from significant subtractive manufacturing waste and high logistics costs due to centralised manufacturing, with high levels of furniture product not re-cycled or re-used.  According to an RSA report, more than 600,000 tonnes of furniture per annum are disposed of in the UK and only 34% of which is recycled in any way.

This PhD project aims to address the above problems by stepping outside of commercial constraints and introducing suitable digital manufacturing technologies to create step changes in furniture manufacturing design since it is reported that 80% of environmental impact is built in at the design stage. 

The project will carry out critical thematic review and examine multifaceted and interlinked influences, including:

• Environmental mega trends and legislation;

• Smart material design for sustainable products using digital technologies;

• Additive manufacturing technologies and their scaled manufacturing potentials;

• Creation of sustainable ‘mass customisable’ furniture product concepts using digital robot manufacturing technologies. 

The problem solving methodology based upon TRIZ will be used to critically examine and resolve issues and conflicts, developing new approaches to digital furniture design and manufacture. The identified solutions will then be simulated, evaluated and physically manufactured as prototypes.

The impact of this research will be to demonstrate sound methodology and practical solutions to the challenges of the sustainable furniture manufacturing with significant reduction of waste and significant increase of reuse and recycle of furniture, thus contributing to the development of circular economy.