• Bridget Driscoll

3-D printing, the future of furniture

Print the Future can create designs on demand

Print the FuturePrint the Future is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.
The process of 3-D printing is additive. Like a massive inkjet printer, the head of the 3-D printer whizzes back and forth, depositing thin layers of plastic to build the shape of a piece of furniture.

Over in the Mill Village Collective during High Point Market, Print the Future had a large 3-D printer right in their exhibitor space, giving demonstrations of how the process worked. The furniture in the showroom is all 3-D printed with Print the Future's printers, which uses either 100% recyclable PLA or ABS plastic to create a three-dimensional object from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file. Companies use 3-D modeling applications to create these files.

"We launched our brand two months ago," said Amy Kittle, operations and events coordinator for Print the Future. "We were at a pop-up event in New York, and one of the attendees said we needed to exhibit here, and we managed to get everything set up in just two weeks."

Based in Vancouver, Canada, the company is looking to expand their presence so buyers can go right to a printing station and pick up their furniture. The company also can ship to those either too far away, or who order pieces online.

"We're working on an online/offline business model," Kittle explained. "The goal is to have about 200 physical locations across the U.S., where we have large printers set up. Those who want to purchase from us can either supply their 3-D model file, get help from one of our designers to create a file, or they can select from a curated catalog of furniture designs."

Print the Future3-D printers can use plastic, metal, glass and even wood to create furniture.

The manufacturers add a special finish to make the furniture safe for the outdoors, as well.

The turnaround times would greatly decrease using this model. A chair that is approximately 3-by-2-by-5 feet and 30 pounds would take about 14 hours to print. Shipping times would be minimal to non-existent, depending on the distance of the closest printing center.

"We want to be the Kinko's of furniture," Kittle joked.

The 3-D printed furniture goes through the same tests as other plastic furniture to ensure safety and quality. The best part of this process, however, is that there will be minimal waste. "With the way the design files are translated to the 3-D printer, the software prints only what is needed, based on the design," Kittle added. Also, customers have the ability to pick up their furniture from the printing location, so there will be little to no packing material needed.

"Initially, our target audience includes interior designers, industrial designers, makers, architects and millennial urbanites (tech savvy early adopters)," Kittle said. "We are a B-to-C, so we will focus on delivering custom pieces to individuals rather than mass production."

Print the Future offers a membership model. Those who become members will receive coupons and company updates. The rest of the pricing will depend on the hours of printing, finishes needed and how much plastic will be necessary for the design. The company is starting with home furnishings, but they are hoping to branch out to other sectors in the future.

"We work with plastic, wood, glass and other materials," Kittle said. "If it can go through a 3-D printer, we can make it for you."

Print the FuturePrint the Future can customize pieces to include multiple colors and designs.

Bridget_DriscollBridget Driscoll | News/Online Editor

Bridget Driscoll is the News and Online Editor for Casual Living. Previously, she worked for online marketing companies such as Get You Found and Mainstreethost, focusing on content writing and Search Engine Optimization practices. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in English, with minors in Psychology and American Sign Language. She is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing through Southern New Hampshire University.

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