ProtoCAM’s rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing are widely used by furniture designers and manufacturers to produce physical, tangible prototypes or working demonstration products for design and testing.
ProtoCAM worked closely with Shea + Latone Incorporated, a product design and development firm. Shea + Latone provides design work for Humanscale, a leading manufacturer of ergonomic office furniture with innovative industrial design. In particular, there have been multiple design and prototyping projects to create components for Humanscale ergonomic chairs and for a point-of-service technology cart used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
A recent project involved a new mesh chair product line designed by Tom Latone. Of particular interest in this project was the mesh back for the chair, which has a striking and elegant design. However, from a prototyping standpoint, the intricate weave pattern with many openings made for a prototyping challenge. Adding to the challenge was the requirement that the chairs had to be usable, not just fragile show pieces.
This meant that the chair back material had to be elastic, so that the chair back had some “give” or flexibility when people sitting on the chair pushed against the back. The colors for the chair backs were green and purple. Twenty chairs were needed for an important industry show where the new chairs would be shown.
ProtoCAM worked with Latone to select a material and a process that would accomplish the product development goals. ProtoCAM Engineer Ed Graham recommended that an SLA prototype be created, and that prototype would be used to rapid manufacture the chair backs in elastomeric urethane using RTV molding process. The elastomeric urethane material could accommodate the required colors and the necessary elasticity. Out of the mold, the chair backs would require some post-processing to clean up the holes and the edges.
The chair back was only one of the chair components that ProtoCAM worked with Latone to develop. ProtoCAM also prototyped the seat, frame, chair arms and chair base — everything except the cylinder and casters.
Working together with ProtoCAM, Shea + Latone was able to complete the new product development for the mesh chair on time and show the working chair prototype at the design show.
The chair is now available as part of the Humanscale Liberty Office Seating and Liberty Chair product lines.