3D Printed Structural Furniture Components

Those of you who made it to 100% Design in London may have had a chance to see the desk in our booth that was constructed from 3D printed connector pieces, aluminum square tube and a standard hollow core domestic door.

Sure ours was not the most expensive stand at 100% Design in London with some displays looking like they may have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their four days of exposure but Shapeways was definitely much busier….

The sixteen 3D printed components of our stand made it possible to design a unique, collapsible, modular stand that could be easily transported around the world, assembled by one person, strong enough to support the weight of the display along with the throngs of people leaning on the desk.

Each of the 16 unique connectors was 3D printed out of White Strong Flexible
with a 2mm wall thickness which was strong enough to support the
structure. There was a little bit of wobble in the assembled structure
that could have been dampened with some small gussets in the design. 
The connectors held together 28 pieces of 20x20x1.6mm hollow square
aluminum tube.  Originally I was hoping to purchase this in London so I
would only have to transport the 3D printed components with me from
Australia but in the end I precut all of the aluminum lengths, taped
them together and carried them on my flights (without getting charged
excess baggage!!). Now it was only up to 100% helper Noel Wilson to
find a domestic door from a nearby hardware supplier and bring it to
the venue on the Tube (subway)….

The furniture constructed with
3D printed parts worked perfectly, transported well, the entire stand
took 3 hours to set up and 10 minutes to pull down. It was a great way
to demonstrate the strength of WSF to people who have not had an
opportunity to see the range of possibilities within one material,
especially when many of the models on display were quite flexible and
even bouncy.

The 3D printed components are ready to be used again
after a quick clean in the dishwasher.  If any part is damaged and
cannot be repaired, we can easily 3D print another part. Perfect.


  1. jeff

    nice project, thanks for sharing. Did the aluminum just press fit into the connectors w/ no issue of the tubes slipping outa their sockets? 0 tolerance between the hole size & tube size?

    Also, I remember a nice 3d printed connector piece by Mikko Seppänen , one of FOC’s talents- check out his arki project on his site http://mikkoseppanen.com/

    mixed materials create a nice final product, and we need to use extruded materials and/or sheet materials where it makes sense. I think on shapeways here we’re prone to 3d printing details that would make more sense being laser-cut sheet material, or extruded tube…

    1. Duann

      Hi Jeff,

      The connectors were designed with zero tolerance/clearance for a nice snug fit, I designed them with small holes and a 3d printed plug that I was going to use, drilling into the aluminum to secure them together but it was not needed. They slid in nice and firm and held in place, even after multiple assemblies of the desk.

      Mikko’s connector on his chair is quite nice.

      It is exciting (and a little bit harder) to have mixed materials, I am sure we will see more of this on Shapeways, both mixing 3D printed polymers and metals to make complex designs, as well as combining ‘third party’ objects like Michiel’s pencil bowl.

      There is so much potential and opportunity it is sometime hard to know where to start…

    2. jeff bare

      where to start…. absolutely right, and michiel’s pencil bowl is a great example!

  2. Michiel Cornelissen

    I was waiting for somebody to do something like this – nice work man! Btw i think mikko didn’t even realize how cool his connector is in sls – looks like he intended it to be wood, eventually…

  3. Bart Veldhuizen

    Nice work! If people want to make their own Shapeways table, can they download the parts somewhere?

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