To explain, reaction injection molding typically requires aromatic polyurethane. This material molds well, but is not UV-resistant and requires a protective coating. This not only adds a manufacturing step, but makes the material difficult to repair if damaged; if you have a reaction-injection-molded chair made from aromatic polyurethane, and you chip the finish, the only repair option is to remove the entire finish, then re-apply a new finish.
Aliphatic polyurethane, on the other hand, is tough and UV-resistant, and is often itself used as a protective coating. But previously it has not worked with reaction injection molding. What Covestro and Arcesso's lab nerds have created with Arfinio is an aliphatic polyurethane that can be reaction injection molded.
The result is a lightweight, sturdy and smooth material with relatively low molding costs. "The resulting material has the look and feel of a solid-surface material but can be produced in one piece," Covestro says. Furthermore, it comes out of the mold finished; if the surface becomes damaged, the mar can be sanded out.
To demonstrate the material's application for furniture, they tapped industrial designer Thomas Schnur to design a chair with it. Schnur, who worked as a carpenter before studying ID, first knocked up a buck to get the proportions and ergonomics he wanted:
He then designed the finished chair, which can be mated with either a wooden or Arfinio base:
Using the material "opened up variations between stronger and softer areas depending on the specific desired functionality," says Schnur. "I'm interested to see how designers will use these benefits in other furniture and product applications!"
If you'd like a materials sample, you can request one here.
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