Steelcase, the furniture and interior design firm unveils the Rapid liquid printing, the new 3D printing method. This innovation results from the collaboration of Steelcase with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) self-assembly laboratory.

The Rapid liquid printing overcomes three main constraints of traditional 3D printing using a technique that improves speed, scale and quality.

The process is carried out in a gel – which essentially allows a product designer to draw in a 3D space without any limit of gravity. Since there is no traditional support material, structure or stratification, the printing process is much faster and can be as wide as the material containing gel.

The self-assembly lab, founded by MIT’s assistant professor Skylar Tibbits and co-led by Jared Laucks, was designed to create a new process to improve hardware speed, size and quality.

Tibbits said it took about 28 minutes to print the complex design for the top of the Bassline table. For another experiment, the team was able to print a 10-minute structure with the Rapid liquid printing which had already taken about 50 hours to produce with a different 3D process.

As a designer, what’s most fascinating and unique about Rapid Liquid Printing is the line quality of the print. It’s soft, almost organic. It evokes images of brushstrokes or the branches of plants,” affirms Yuka Hiyoshi, senior industrial designer. The truth is that, regarding the printing’s speed, it would just be a matter of minutes instead of days for large scale objects to be printed.

Steelcase and MIT’s collaboration will keep seeking further responses to improve materials, scale and printing processes. Last but not least, it will be essential to find the optimal product or object to be printed, which makes the most of this new process.

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