It started with a question:

What if you could print a chair?

Concept sketches for a 3D printed chair

Our team worked through dozens of concepts and sketches to find the perfect balance between form, function, and fabrication method.

Knowing the chair would be 'grown' layer by layer on the Budmen Builder™ 3D printer, the idea of a tree emerged. The chair started as a trunk and grew outwards to create the base and back of the seat.

From the concept sketches, the final form was developed using a CAD software. From concept to form, the chair was developed using CAD software. This software allowed us to make design iterations and weight simulations to make it both aesthetically pleasing but also strong enough to hold the weight of a 250lbs+ person. Several iterations and weight simulations later, the form of the chair was aesthetically pleasing, strong enough to hold the weight of humans, and ready to print.

DIAGRAM: The wireframe visualization above shows the thousands of facets needed to create the smooth sweeping lines of the chair.

An object is 3D printed by successively printing horizontal layers on top of one another. Each layer needs a surface underneath otherwise when the printer extrudes the plastic, gravity will pull the unsupported material down and it will droop or sag.

An object can grow up and outward if the angle of the layers are greater than 45°. None of the chair’s sleek angles or spaceship-like curves are less than 45 degrees, making it possible to print in one strong piece with no excess material for support scaffolding.

DIAGRAM: Here we can see how designing an object to work within the 45° rule allows for each layer to support the next one without drooping or support material.

One of the strongest parts of a 3D print is the outside wall, or perimeter. The greater the contact area between the perimeters of printed layers, the stronger, more durable a 3D printed object will be.

By taking the circumference of chair's footprint and shaping it into the distinct prong shape of the base, our team was able to increase the total perimeter by over 60% while keeping the base compact. This allows for increased durability and a stronger bond between layers. That's a lot of strength for a small amount of material!

DIAGRAM: The visualization shows the optimization process between the circumference of the chairs footprint and the cross section of the bottom of the chair.
Time lapse of chair printing

The Resolute Chair was 3D printed with a large nozzle on the Budmen Builder™ that resulted in big chunky layers, reducing the overall printing time down to 93 hours. Because of these thick layers, the print lines were very visible when it finished printing.

We like this aesthetic, but to emphasize the smooth shapes and clean curves of the chair, our team meticulously hand sanded the chair for hours after it finished printing. The heat from the sanding removed the print lines and created a unified surface that was ready for the final coating.

To finish the Resolute Chair, we coated it with a specially formulated structural resin, giving the final product a distinct textured finish and protecting the structure from any damage.

FIGURE: After the Resolute Chair finished printing, the team spent time sanding and smoothing the surface to remove print lines and preparing it for the final polymer coating.

Note from the Creators

The Resolute Chair get its name from our 5 year pursuit to design and build a 3D printer that could reliably print a functional and full sized chair. When we set out to make this machine, we never imagined that it would take dozens of prototypes, and thousands of hours, and years in the making to get it just right. With each prototype the results improved, but it wasn't until we had built a machine that met our unwavering standards for reliable performance and superior print quality that when we finally printed this chair, we christened it "The Resolute Chair."

- The Budmen Team

Resolute [res·o·lute] 1. adj. purposeful, determined, and unwavering. 2. n. a ship that is carries scientists and colonists to Alpha Centauri.

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