Industrial designer Patrick Jouin has been using 3D printing in his designs for years but his latest prototype, which launched during Milan Design Week, pushes the material process to new limits. Inspired by origami and nature, the TAMU chair was developed in partnership with Dassault Systèmes and despite the avant-garde look of the lacy web patterns, the real innovation comes from its ability to fold down almost entirely flat.
Early models of the chair deployed a hinged panel structure that would allow the chair's base to fold down easily, almost like a piece of fabric. Dassault Systèmes brought their generative design software to the mix, allowing Jouin to optimize the structure and create the elaborate pattern inspired by structures found in nature. The emphasis was on using as little material as possible. The final result weighs a little over five pounds.
"Previously designers were inspired by 'organic' as a style, but what is completely new is that designers are now inspired by the organic process itself, and how to emulate it," Jouin says. "Manufacturing has fallen into the habit of producing more material than necessary. but with the help of innovative digital technologies, we are now able to create with much more efficiency and less waste, even as early as the design process."
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Jouin is still working on bringing the prototype to market. Ideally, the chair would be made with one continuous 48-hour 3D print, but it's not quite there yet. In Milan, the team had to individually print 1,643 components and assemble the final product by hand.