Monday, February 25, 2008

Myto Chair Development Cycle

The Myto Chair (designed by Konstantin Grcic, produced by Plank) went from concept to production in just over a year. This is a remarkably short development cycle for a mass produced, injection molded piece of furniture. To make it all happen so quickly, the designer, manufacturer, and materials supplier collaborated extensively throughout the process. Although I have no proof to cite, I am certain that this aggressive development cycle would not have been possible without CAD technology: 3D modeling, Finite Element Analysis, Rapid Prototyping, and mold flow simulations (depicted below). And on a simpler level, sharing bytes between designer, engineer, and manufacturer is arguably faster and cheaper than sharing atoms.

Mold flow simulation simulates how molten material will flow in a mold cavity. This can tell a manufacturer how long it will take to mold a part, and if there will be any problems associated with the material cooling too fast. Finite element analysis provides insights into how an object will perform when various forces are applied. Since this is all simulated in virtual space, it saves product developers lots of time and money. The plastic supplier, BASF, played a key role in making sure the formula of plastic had the characteristics needed:
"the plastic had to have just the right ratio of elasticity, stiffness and strength in order to meet the requirements made of a comfortable, sturdy and yet shapely cantilever chair. The interplay between the plastic formulation and the design of the injection molding tool – a mere three injection points suffice – then gave the product its final shape and properties." - from BASF's press release on the chair

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