Open design isn’t just for machines and electronics, With the rise in popularity of CNC routers and laser cutters, there is now an expanding open furniture movement. The result is a fabrication movement where designs are shared globally but fabricated locally and parametric design enables infinite configuration for personal fabrication. Every design featured in this article is available for download.
The OpenDesk project provides free downloads of designer furniture files that you can CNC. They also unite buyers with a network of makers who can cut your files locally, or they’ll ship pre-cut, flat-pack “ready to assemble” parts to you. OpenDesk is quickly adding new designs, but currently the four main “designer ranges” are all created by established architects: AtFab by Filson & Rohrbacher, Lean by 00:, and Edie by David & Joni Steiner. At the time of this writing the Lean Desk has been downloaded more than 4,497 times.
All designs on Open Desk are downloadable, but their attributes are not easily editable to adjust for different material thicknesses or spacial configurations. For parametric versions of some of the designs on OpenDesk, check out AtFab (more detail below).
The Layer Chair
Jens Dyvik has created a parametric Layer Chair in the Grasshopper graphical algorithm editor extension for Rhino. Jens used a 2.5D process to create a “stair-stepped” 3D chair surface as an example of how to work with large organic surfaces on the ShopBot while making furniture for the HONFablab in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Just as intended, the original layer chair has mutated into several different versions, including; formal dining chairs in the shape of mountain peaks in Norway, a tall stool in New Zealand and a table and chair set in Amsterdam.
Ronen Kadushin has been practicing open design since 2004 when he first explored the extension of open-source software concepts to industrial design. Kadushin’s Italic Shelf is an open shelving system that consists of two basic parts that can be assembled in many different configurations. Using Kadushin’s “Controlled Collapse” structural position locking, the shelf maintains its strength and stability, even when stacked high. His Fold Coffee Table prototype, pictured below, is laser cut from 3mm painted steel, bent by hand and then crowned with 10mm glass
Released in 2011 after a successful Kickstarter, SketchChair’s open software makes it easy to design functional, customized furnishings using a 2D “sketching” interface that turns your drawings into chairs. Overall, SketchChair makes it easy to design functional customized furnishings using a 2D drawing interface. Files can then be CNC routed, laser cut, or made in miniature on a paper cutter. The software has a learning curve, but a manual is provided.
EMSL CNC Workstation Cart
If you have your own CNC or just need a standing-height computer workstation in your shop, download the files for Evil Mad Scientist Labs‘s CNC Workstation Cart. Faced with the ergonomic challenges of makeshift workstation solutions, the co-founders of EMSL designed a sturdy, standing-height computer workstation for their workshop. It has five drawers for storage, room for a VESA monitor mount and space for a PC tower — with additional counter space for a laptop or tools.
Ultimate CNC Cut Height Adjustable Desk
After looking at many different height adjustable desk designs, Tyler Cooper discovered that many sit-stand desks used the same bases with custom tops. He purchased a base and modified the EMSL CNC Workstation Cart to become his Ultimate Sit/Stand Desk.
Architects Anne Filson and Gary Rohrbacher are the creators of AtFab, a designer line of commercial CNC furniture whose six designs are also downloadable from OpenDesk. Yet Filson and Rohrbacher have higher ambitions — they’re currently creating fully parametric fabable furnishings whose dimensions, details, material thickness, and slot size can be easily transformed and fabricated. As they expand their catalog, they’ve pledged to offer the files to the maker community before they are available for retail. Although you can’t yet export the DXFs, you can try out the early release of their browser-based Processing apps.
You Had Me at Open Source + Parametric
As a lover of all things customizable, I simply had to build a custom AtFab design, but the online apps couldn’t yet spit out DXFs. I inquired about an alpha version and received the “One to Several table” configurator as a set of Processing sketches. I used the Processing sketch to fabricate custom standing-height workbenches for the new MAKE Providence, R.I., office.
These efforts were documented and published as the “CNC Maker Bench” project in MAKE Volume 38. The new issue goes on sale next week. AtFab has also graciously agreed to allow me to distribute the sketch, enabling every maker to have their own custom CNC Maker Bench.
Interested in fabricating your own CNC Maker Bench? Read the full CNC Maker Bench tutorial for downloads and step-by-step tips on how to design and assemble your custom version of AtFab’s One to Several table.
Where to Fabricate
There are numerous shared workspaces popping up all over the world where you can access a large CNC router, check MAKE’s Where to Get Digital Fabrication Access page for links to directories of tools or services near you!
Have you fabricated any of these open source projects? We what to hear about your builds! Send photos, links and stories to anna <at> makermedia [dot] com. Check out all our CNC machining content here.