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Title: Generative design for agile robot based additive manufacturing for sustainable aesthetic furniture products
Authors: Fox, Andrew Richard
Advisors: Yang, Q
Minton, T
Keywords: Generative Furniture;Design Sustainability
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The Furniture manufacturing industry has been slow to adopt the latest manufacturing technologies, relying heavily upon specialised conventional machinery. This approach not only requires high levels of specialist knowledge, training and capital investment, but also suffers from significant traditional subtractive manufacturing waste and high logistics costs due to centralised manufacturing, with high levels of furniture product not re-cycled or re-used at the end of its life cycle. This doctoral research aims to address these problems by establishing a suitable digital manufacturing technology framework concept to create step changes in the furniture design to manufacturing pathway. The design stage has the potential to contribute massively to the environmental impact of products. In this research, a Robot Base Additive Manufacturing Concept cell for future furniture manufacturing is reported. Generative design illustrates its potential contribution to waste reduction, increased manufacturing efficiency, optimised product performance and reduced environmental impact constituting a truly lean and progressive future for Furniture Manufacturing Design. Through case studies the research will show the potential for exploiting Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) concepts through the rule-based AI generative design post-processing of geometry for robot manufacturing, examination of different methodologies for printing and thus the resultant potential for ‘Mass Customised’ Furniture. Aesthetics, structures and the use of Smart Materials not previously economic to manufacture will be considered to demonstrate the potential to flatten the traditional Bill of Materials (BOM) and reduce logistical issues. The Furniture Industry has developed from an artisan driven craft industry, whose pioneers saw themselves reflected in their crafts and cherished the sense of pride in the originality of their designs, now largely re-configured to an anonymous collective mass output. Digital technologies and smart materials enhancement allow innovative structural fabrication, presenting a plethora of potential for networked artisan craft industries to create extraordinary aesthetics and customisable product designs. Integrating these developments with the computing power of generative design provides the tools for practitioners to create concepts which are well beyond the insight of even the most consummate traditional designers. This framework is becoming an active area of research for application in many different industries. The step changes are empowering artisans to revolutionise the design to manufacture workflow, giving momentum to the concept of conceiving a pre-industrial model of manufacturing with bespoke sustainable design at its heart. The elements of the framework will be described and illustrated using case study models highlighting the potential for creating unique aesthetics for sustainable furniture products. The research presents the methodology to create and compare iterations employing different rule sets through a commercial generative design application and how these outputs can be further customised using parametric strategies in NURBS modellers, with the ultimate goal of creating aesthetic ‘Lean’ and sustainable innovative furniture of the future, thus illustrating how the creative use of digital networks in linking individual practitioners in the making of aesthetic customised products, manufactured local to their markets, could be achieved using this framework. This research shows a robust ‘green revolution’ is evidently necessary to satisfy the needs of an ever-growing population, allowing the world to thrive within the means of this planet. New approaches to the use of technologies can achieve these changes in Furniture Manufacturing and establish a truly enhanced Circular Economy. Governments around the World are encouraging these initiatives and these approaches are identified and rationalised alongside the drivers for change which will have major impacts on this manufacturing sector. This research critically examines the Furniture Design and Manufacturing technologies presented through a TRIZ framework against the desired outcomes. Using this approach together with the physical development of a robotic test cell, combined with case study data significant contributions to knowledge in the focused area of Furniture Manufacturing are identified, detailed and enhance Furniture Design, Manufacturing and Environmental Impact for the future. The focused approach also serves to highlight areas requiring further research.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Design
Brunel Design School Theses

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