MU Form Furniture Design is using 3D scanning and CAD tools to quickly translate its unique artisanal furniture designs into the tooling they need for partially-automated production. Until recently, developing the tooling involved time-consuming manual processes to capture the design. Recently, however, the company has streamlined the process by outsourcing its 3D model making work to Artec, a Luxembourg -based manufacturer of 3D scanners, which also offers 3D scanning and design services.

The main material MU Form works with is high-quality bent ply, which is one of the most widely used materials in this industry due to its ability to create a variety of shapes for chairs, stools, and tables. The company’s specialists seek to create great designs that pose a challenge for other manufacturers to copy or replicate.

To produce a new original piece of furniture, MU Form would normally ship a physical prototype model to a factory overseas so they reverse engineer the model by using a router duplicator to create a wood mold.

While this method worked to get them started in making a somewhat accurate representation of the chair or stool prototype, it didn’t allow them to efficiently fine-tune some of the curvatures and surfaces that we knew needed to be fixed for the final production furniture.

With the adoption of 3D scanning, the furniture designer still develops the physical prototype of a furniture piece. But, to reverse-engineer the piece, the prototype is 3D scanned The raw point data is then used to create contours using the Rhino 3D CAD package. The 3D model is then emailed to the factory which creates an accurate CNC metal mold directly from the file. The company also uses 3D model renders for patent processing and to show upcoming products to potential clients.

3D model of chair scanned by Artec Eva scanner
3D model of chair scanned by Artec Eva scanner (Image source: Artec)
Chair mold
The time frame for creating a mold has been slashed from 60-90 days to 20 days (Image source: Artec)

 

 

 

 

 

 

>Read more by Lee Goldberg, Product Design & Development, 6/14/16

 

3D Scanning & Reverse Engineering Streamline Furniture Design & Production