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May 20, 2017 AT 5:00 am

MIT Is Printing Furniture In Westworld-Like Gel Vats

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Via Apartment Therapy:

Rapid Liquid Printing, a brand new “4-D printing” process created in collaboration between MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and leading office furniture company Steelcase, pushes the boundaries of current 3-D printing technology by producing material that will grow and change on its own, according to a recent interview with Steelcase director of new business innovation Rob Poel.

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Not unlike the ginormous vats of gelatinous white goo used in Westworld to create AI (which Steelcase is also toying with in collaboration with MIT and other labs), Rapid Liquid Printing uses a technique that injects liquefied rubber, foam, or plastic into a vat of gel, which provides structural support while the material hardens — like a massive candy mold.

The printing method allows for a large piece of furniture to be pulled, fully formed, from the gel within minutes. Or, as Fast Company put it: “Imagine that you could print a tabletop in a matter of minutes, faster than an IKEA product comes down the assembly line. What would that technology look like? And how would it change the processes of mass manufacturing furniture?”

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