MU Form Design is using 3D scanning & CAD tools to quickly translate its unique artisan furniture designs ready for partially-automated production.

(An article on the Product Design & Development website explains how a leading artisan furniture maker is using new technology.)

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 with 3D scanning and design services.

The main material MU Form works with is high quality bent ply, due to its ability to create a variety of shapes for chairs, stools and tables. 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 mould.

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, and the raw point data is then used to create contours using a CAD package, in particular to accurately model every nuance in curvatures and radii. The result is a final model that has been minimally altered to remove the prototype’s defects.
The 3D model is then emailed to the factory which creates an accurate CNC metal mould directly from the file. The company also uses 3D model renders for patent processing and to show upcoming products to potential clients.
The use of 3D scanning has helped MU Form significantly increase the quality and consistency of their furniture, while at the same time boosting productivity, saving development time and reducing development and production costs.

“It has allowed us to digitally fine-tune our furniture in digital space so that the mould factory can make a metal mold via CNC (as opposed to a wood mold) from a digital representation of the chair or stool in a much shorter time frame than the previous process of sending the prototype and developing the mold by hand,” says Mark Leon. “A CNC metal mould allows for much higher quality production furniture to be made.”

The time frame for creating a mould has been slashed from 60-90 days to 20 days, and savings are estimated to reach 10-15%. MU Form’s Mark Leon says that the company plans to continue working with Artec to make other furniture pieces, including tables, chaise lounges, and other larger pieces.

See the full story at the Product Design & Development website.