Dirk Vander Kooij, winner of the 2011 Dutch Design Award, has developed a very elegant solution to all that trash sitting around. YES, you know where I’m going with this. Why should it be sitting around, when it could be doing something useful. Like being sat upon?

3D Printing Furniture from Trash

The process Dirk is using is absolutely fascinating. Anything with a resin code from 1 to 7 – Old computer cases, fridges, containers … you name it – is sliced, diced and melted down into a gooey mix. An articulated robot arm extrudes the goo in perfectly plasticized lines, following the contours of a CAD design, layer by layer. Vander Kooij makes chairs and tables in a variety of colours, which you may inspect here with a process you can watch here.

If you happen to be in (or near) Milan between April 17th and 22nd, drop into Milan Design Week 2012. Vander Kooij is going to be unveiling his “Endless” line of furniture (No word on when the unveiling ends, if ever.)

I wonder what the strength of the chairs are? Delamination can be a problem where weight travels along the grain of the 3D print. In addition, is Vander Kooij mixing his plastics together? I suppose they’re all of one specific resin. What if they’re not though? I don’t see a heated print bed… so how does he deal with warping? This is some very beautiful work, considering the functional limitations of FDM (i.e. don’t make overhangs when designing, you will make your 3D print very sad.)

This reminds me of a German project called LeBigRep, a monster RepRap 3D printer made by the enterprising Krt Cirkid of Leipzig. I took a good look at this machine at Dutch Design Week 2011 – great work, but stringers galore! FDM on the big scale is difficult to accomplish – I’m happy to see Vander Kooij is succeeding.

Reusing plastic is always a difficult proposition for 3D printing – it’s not easy to get consistency in extrusion. It doesn’t help that popular plastics like PLA are not reusable. Take a peek at a Kickstarter favourite of mine, the Filabot. These guys out of Vermont managed to raise $32,000 for their filament maker. They seem to get good results out of ABS pellets – what about real trash?