Jul 26, 2016 | By Tess

Emerging Objects, an independent 3D printing “MAKE-tank”, has over the years impressed us with the diversity and scope of their boundary pushing 3D printing projects. In 2013, for instance, the innovative design studio gained attention for a 3D printed pavilion made entirely out of salt, and just a year ago it experimented with 3D printing out of an instant tea based material. Yes, that’s right. They actually 3D printed a tea pot made from instant tea. Now, the Make-tank is pushing its innovative materials even further as it is working on developing a 3D printing material made from recycled rubber tires.

If the thought of discarded rubber tires instantly makes you think of Springfield’s famous “Tire Fire,” the reality is not actually that far off. In fact, according to Emerging Objects, an estimated 259 million tires are discarded every year in the United States. Additionally, due to tires’ material composition, which often contain embedded metals and other non-biodegradable materials, they are an incredibly difficult to recycle and are often just burned for their fuel value.

In seeing the issues that surround the reality of discarded tires, Emerging Objects realized that they could perhaps develop a way to repurpose and effectively recycle the discarded rubber material for use as a 3D printing material.

By cryogenically reducing discarded rubber tires into a micronized rubber powder, the Bay area based Make-tank found that they could create a 3D printing material that has potential applications in the construction and building sectors. As they explain on their website, “We envision using this material to make 3D printed outdoor furniture and as 3D printed panels for exterior building components such as wall panels that can be used as for acoustic and sound dampening purposes.”

To showcase their innovative 3D printing rubber material, Emerging Objects are introducing The Rubber Pouff, a versatile 3D printed piece of furniture made from recycled rubber tires. The piece, which can be used as either a stool, foot stool, or as a sculptural object, was 3D printed in eight separate pieces which were then glued together to form the final structure.

The texture of the Rubber Pouff is notable as well, as the perforated surface gives the impression of a padded soft surface. In fact, one could picture the texture as an acoustic surface padding a wall. According to Emerging Objects, the texture was specifically designed to evoke the materiality and haptic qualities of the material itself as well as to resemble a button tufted surface.

The Rubber Pouff project was made possible with the help of green materials company Lehigh Technologies, which supplied the raw rubber powder. Working on the project itself were Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Kent Wilson, Alex Schofield, and Vuong Dao.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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