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Summary:

4 AXYZ reveals the aesthetics of its additive manufactured furniture and explains how it can make a smart window smarter.

Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.
photo: 4 AXYZ

Take a look at the foot stool pictured below. Notice anything different? If you did, it was probably the unusual grain on the legs. It’s not actually a natural grain; it’s the seams from the layers of wood attached to create it. This stool was 3D printed by startup 4 AXYZ, which hopes to use its technology to offer custom, affordable furniture made out of high-quality wood.

Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

That means there are differences beyond just that layered look. For example, a stool made with current methods might be manufactured in nine pieces and then need to be hand-assembled. This stool is made of three pieces and no humans have to get involved in assembly.

Another difference: Without any extra manufacturing cost, a customer could increase or decrease the size of the object they order, or substitute in a different kind of wood. More interestingly, they could combine different types of wood and materials (think carbon fiber or Kevlar) to create composite items that would currently be very difficult to make.

4 AXYZ founder Samir Shah, left, said the startup is ready to go ahead with manufacturing furniture as soon as it finds funding. Photo by Signe Brewster.

4 AXYZ founder Samir Shah, left, said the startup is ready to go ahead with manufacturing furniture as soon as it finds funding. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Founder and CEO Samir Shah said that while machines have long been trying to catch up to humans with their woodworking abilities, “this time, hands can’t do this.”

When I spoke with 4 AXYZ last year, the company was closely guarding its product. But at the Launch festival Monday, Shah showed me a few printed wood pieces. Here are some examples of what 4 AXYZ can do:

4 AXYZ 3D printed wood

Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

4 AXYZ 3D printed wood

Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

Shah said 4 AXYZ has also since begun collaborating with Portuguese home company A Catedral. A Catedral is developing smart windows that can collect data from the environment, but need integrated electronics that are attractive and functional.

Enter 4 AXYZ, which developed a system to embed electronics within the window frames. Its machine is capable of printing hollow objects or embedding objects directly in wood.

A chip embedded in two types of wood. Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

A chip embedded in two types of wood. Photo courtesy of 4 AXYZ.

Shah said 4 AXYZ could eventually print “smart wood” studded with sensors. A smart railing could detect when people go up or downstairs and switch off lights on turn on heat. Smart floors could detect when a stranger enters a home and alert its owners or the authorities.

4 AXYZ’s printing method involves adapting an existing German woodworking machine to operate in 3D. It works by combining small, uniformly cut pieces of wood. Shah actually prefers to put the manufacturing technique under the broader term of “additive manufacturing,” as there is at no point any liquid “ink” involved, as is generally the case in 3D printing.

4 AXYZ is currently seeking funding to buy its own woodworking machine. With money in hand, it would be ready to set up shop immediately.

Shah said that while they have thought up major applications like furniture, he’s sure people will think of many more ways to use the machine.

“We have the technology and we don’t know how far someone else can take this,” he said.

  1. So we can add wood to the list of materials able to be used in additive manufacturing. No waste, no need for factories or convoluted shipping lines, less energy used. The 21st Century will be known by future generations as the century in which we learned how to live the way we want to without sullying the planet with mountains of waste.

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    1. Get over yourself. The planet is laughing at your vapid notions of saving it. And she will belch some volcanic ash your way to prove it.

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    2. Oh certainly, the raw material to make the additive wood (or faux) will never have to be mined from anywhere, it will just emerge from thin air. No trees will ever need to be cut down and the finished products will never need to be coated with chemicals to preserve them. And people will never be needed to forge, extrude, assemble the manufacturing elements of this technology, because they’ll all be home smoking grass and collecting obamacare. And certainly, fuels need to be bring this technology from points A to B will never be burned, because gnomes will just wish it into their home shops without so much as an invoice generated.

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  2. So we can now add wood to the list of materials that can be used in additive manufacturing. No waste, no need for convoluted shipping lines. The 21st century will be known by future generations as when we learned to live how we want without mucking up the planet. Excelsior!

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    1. Oh certainly, the raw material to make the additive wood (or faux) will never have to be mined from anywhere, it will just emerge from thin air. No trees will ever need to be cut down and the finished products will never need to be coated with chemicals to preserve them. And people will never be needed to forge, extrude, assemble the manufacturing elements of this technology, because they’ll all be home smoking grass and collecting obamacare. And certainly, fuels need to be bring this technology from points A to B will never be burned, because gnomes will just wish it into their home shops without so much as an invoice generated.

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  3. So, I started to make a snarky comment about it taking a year to print a new hardwood floor for my kitchen, but honestly this extremely interesting technology and it looks pretty good in the shared pictures.. Here’s hoping it feels and looks as realistic in person…

    …and it doesn’t take forever to print. B^P

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    1. The raw material is real wood and not a powdered version with a aste additive. The process when we execute it, will be pretty rapid and of course nothing but real wood. Thank you folks for your comments
      -4AXYZ (four axes)

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      1. Where can we add ourselves to your mailing list?

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  4. Harold Cataquet Saturday, April 5, 2014

    I love the idea, and I hope it succeeds. Well done, Samir! I love the idea of being able to create printed objects with a grain to give the appearance of a natural object. The “Bad Table” on your website is a perfect example.

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