"Commercial interior turnover occurs about every 5 years according to recent estimates. Most of the furniture for these interiors is made overseas, made from petroleum-based plastics, made with antiquated manufacturing processes, shipped in containers, and stored in huge facilities. After generating masses of harmful carbon emissions and waste, the vast majority of the furniture ends up in U.S. landfills at the end of life.
We are addressing systemic change. At Model No. we've streamlined the manufacturing process of furniture with the adoption of 3D Systems’ EXT Titan Pellet printers and the usage of bio-resins and non-toxic materials.”
- Philip Raub, CEO, Model No.
Foundation in Additive
Model No. began in 2018 out of a need: its founders were searching for a solution to locally and sustainably create custom furniture while delivering products in a timely manner. They believed large-format 3D printing could be the solution but found that traditional filament 3D printers fell short when it came to print speed and sustainable material choices. By 3D printing with pellets on EXT Titan Pellet systems, Model No. has been able to utilize its custom, sustainable bio-resin compounds and at the same time greatly increase deposition rates to create products faster.
As part of its collaborative project, Endless Loop: From Waste to Wanted, Model No. and a selection of mission-driven design partners designed a collection of products that were fully circular and left zero waste. They sourced salvaged wood locally in the Bay Area to create furniture with their CNC machine. The sawdust waste from the CNC milling process was used to custom-compound 3D-printable bio-resin pellets. The upcycled wood-filled PLA pellet material was then used for printing unique pieces of furniture and art that complement the wood pieces while also neutralizing the environmental impact of the subtractive milling process.
According to Model No. CEO Philip Raub, whether 3D printing with bio-resins, machining wood or sewing fabric, all of the materials Model No. employs in its products are regenerative, biodegradable, recyclable, and certified sustainable. All the company’s resins are formulated from upcycled plant-waste that can compost in as few as 5 years.
In pursuit of a fully circular process, Model No. is also working toward a recycling program for its clients to recapture and reuse its products at end of life and complete the product life cycle. “In the future, these technologies will provide our customers and brand partners with the ability to develop after-life solutions for our products. In the meantime, we also offer a take-back program to customers,” explained Raub. “And everything we make is waste-free because we use the most advanced large format 3D printers from 3D Systems that are essentially zero waste and run on solar energy.”
Through AM, Model No. maximizes the advantages of digital fabrication with unique designs and iterative processes as well as mass customization and on-demand manufacturing. “We make everything on-demand and domestically, or locally when possible. Our customers have the ability to customize their products or order from a pre-designed catalog thus eliminating the need for inventory and wasteful production,” said Raub. With the ability to tweak designs through CAD and 3D print prototypes early in the process, Model No. can expand beyond a single design and create a whole family of products based on one idea.
There are no warehouses full of products waiting to be sold from Model No. either. The company manufactures all its products to-order, reducing waste and operating costs, while still maintaining a relatively fast turnaround time. For many products, 8 weeks is a standard lead time from order placement to delivery, with larger orders generally taking around 12 weeks. These lead times are significantly faster than what is typical for traditionally manufactured custom furniture.
It’s clear that Model No.’s approach is working. Demand is high for their products and the company is meeting its growth goals year over year. With AM as the backbone of their sustainable production process, Model No. has managed scale by adding 3D printers to increase production capacity. Today, the company operates three EXT 1070 Titan Pellet 3D printers which run almost continuously.
“Our partnership with Model No. began nearly three years ago when they approached us with their concept. It’s incredibly satisfying to see how far they have progressed. They are a perfect example of the kind of unique manufacturing applications that 3D Systems’ pellet extrusion 3D printers make possible.”
- Rahul Kasat, VP – Titan, 3D Systems
*All images by Cody Perhamus, courtesy of Model No.