Printing Whatever You Like
A glance at the range of products on offer from Oechsler, a company that goes back many a year, immediately makes it clear just how diverse products manufactured on the basis of industrial 3D printing can actually be. The process makes it easier to implement custom-fit solutions while still conserving resources - from the production of the different components to the final product. Having implemented projects in the car, medical, and sports goods sectors for clients such as BMW, Adidas, Bosch and 3M, Oechsler boasts a great deal of experience in 3D printing and in plastics technology. Moreover, with its international focus, the company is one of the largest manufacturers in the field of 3D-printed components on the basis of plastics. Now, with a case study, Oechsler has turn its attention to the furniture industry. The “Lounge Chair Slope” holds the promise of new developments in this respect. Designer Johannes Steinbauer of Steinbauer Design was recruited to come up with an aesthetic way to implement this technical product study. In order to better understand what was possible in seating design, the team devised a total of five prototypes with different bases and covers.
The results of these pre-investment studies have been combined in “Lounge Chair Slope”, the four-star metal base of which holds a seat shell, upholstery with a grid structure and cushions made of thermoplastic plastic, all of which are the products of a 3D printer. Even the connecting elements are 3D printed. In terms of comfort, the seat is already more than just a study, since its development is based on Porsche’s manufacturing know-how for sportscar seats. The latter also includes 3D-printed upholstery, the hardness of which is individually adapted to the customer’s specifications. “We are the first company in the world to offer this,” reports Andreas Knöchel, Head of Program Management at Oechsler. The company has even given thought to as long a lifespan as possible for “Lounge Chair Slope”, exclusively using homogeneous materials that are recyclable. Because it features plug-in systems and does not glue its parts together, every single element of this 80-centimeter chair can be replaced if necessary. “We only print what we need. We can then recycle the finished parts,” explains Knöchel. This means that a single “Lounge Chairs Slope” can be manufactured using several 3D printers.
The chair’s design alternate between closed and open structures. The fine geometric grid structures which go to make up its seat shell represent one of Oechsler‘s specialties: The company already uses this particular technology for printing the soles for sport shoes. In the version for their “Lounge Chair Slope” the design’s airy structure, printed in several layers, is adapted perfectly, and ergonomically, to the body of a sitting person. As a finishing touch, the chair’s seat cushions have been provided with a soft fabric, with stretchy tapes to attach them to the seat shell. As few materials as possible with a maximum of flexibility in terms of design and functionality – this was Oechsler’s main objective for their lightweight “Lounge Chair Slope”. So as to cut the number of parts necessary, soft and hard elements were combined within one single component. Moreover, by adding extra printed components, frames or textiles it is also easy to modify the chair’s appearance as required. Thanks to its modular construction, the chair does not take up much space, as well as conserving resources during transportation. "Lounge Chair Slope" represents a comprehensive case study and will be serving Oechsler as the basis for all further developments in the field of furniture design: “Our objective is not so much to bring the chair to market the way it is now. Instead, what we want to do is, together with the furniture industry, to use the study to illustrate what is currently possible using 3D printing, so that existing processes can be optimized” explains Knöchel.
Tip: "Slope" by Oechsler will be on show at the industry platform formnext from 16 to 19 November 2021 in Frankfurt am Main.
Hall 12.0, B62
60327 Frankfurt am Main