September 14, 2018
Fast Radius, an additive manufacturing company, partnered with digital 3D Manufacturing company Carbon to reimagine the design of Steelcase’s SILQ office chair. The companies worked with Steelcase to design, engineer and print a custom arm cap, using additive manufacturing processes to align the design of the chair with human physiology. Steelcase engaged Fast Radius and Carbon to explore how additive manufacturing could improve the product development process and differentiate its products in the market.
“Ever since SILQ first debuted, we have continued to experiment with enhancements to the chair’s design, living up to our reputation of pursuing innovation,” says Bruce Smith, Steelcase director of Global Design. “The additive manufacturing processes from Fast Radius and Carbon enabled us to streamline the already-unique aesthetics of the chair with a lattice structure that also condensed three parts into one.”
“The flexibility of our Application Launch Program (ALP) provided the freedom to brainstorm and try new design ideas for the SILQ,” says Lou Rassey, Fast Radius chief executive officer. “For a design-driven company like Steelcase, this was crucial. Unlike traditional lengthy and expensive design cycles, the additive manufacturing process meant Steelcase could go through as many redesigns as needed to get it right. In this instance, we went from the initial idea with around 100 variables and produced over 12 unique designs in just eight weeks.”
Every part of the chair is designed to react intuitively to an individual person’s body and movements. The additive manufactured armrest was designed in four zones that provided different attributes based on how a person’s arm might interact with it. Although each zone was designed separately, Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology enabled Fast Radius to print the entire armrest as one cohesive part, and the use of lattices reduced material usage by up to 70% without sacrificing performance.
“Carbon’s digital 3D Manufacturing solution empowers companies like Steelcase with the freedom to design and build next-gen products on the means of production, at scale,” says Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone, Carbon chief executive officer and co-founder. “In addition to Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology, our novel approach combines connected, data-centric hardware with over-the-air software updates and innovative materials—like the ones used to create the lattice for the SILQ armrest—enabling creators to design and produce previously unmakeable products both economically and at mass scale.”
Sources: Press materials received from the company.