#UPDATE ON OUR WAY TO THE STRETCHED GOAL: More great recycled carbon products | Meet the Fibre Placement Lamps
The Recycled Carbon Chair | Creating beauty from carbon fibre waste is not just innovative, it is really awesome.
Carbon - it's the material of the future, super lightweight and indestructible. But that also makes it a big problem for the environment: It’s not degradable and it’s hard to recycle. We found a way to address this problem.
So… what’s the deal with carbon fibre? Carbon has been around forever, and the name actually comes from the Latin carbo, which means charcoal. In the 1970s, scientists were able to bond carbon atoms together to form long chains. They created a super strong and extremely lightweight material, thinner than a human hair, 4 to 5 times stronger than steel, and more than 60% lighter. When these carbon fibres are woven into sheets and mixed with resin, a material is created that has many applications. Think about aircraft parts, car doors and bumpers, badminton rackets, golf clubs, medical instruments, wind mill blades, and so on.
Great stuff with many advantages, but with one major drawback: You cannot really get rid of it. This doesn’t only concern your used golf clubs, but also the process from manufacturing carbon fibre to finished components is wasteful.
It is estimated that more than 30% of produced carbon fibre ends up as waste at some point in the manufacturing process. It is nearly impossible to separate resin and fibre and to recycle, reuse or burn it. So the industry dumps it in landfills, under asphalt roads and in warehouses. But at LABEL/BREED we’ve decided to get creative with it instead.
Our designers have taken on the challenge: How do we turn this waste into something beautiful? We are LABEL/BREED, an initiative that focuses on the development of sustainable and innovative interior objects. We do this by establishing collaborations between manufacturers and talented designers. For this particular collaboration we asked Marleen Kaptein to work with a group of aerospace engineers at NLR – the Dutch Aerospace Center – and the awesome fibre placement robot they have.
This machine is normally used for the manufacture of structural components for the aerospace industry. What’s usually a very calculated process, Marleen managed to turn into an artistic one. She worked closely with the engineers to show that it is possible to deal more freely with the material and this results in designs with their own character and style. A great prototype emerged that can be seen in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Building this prototype was a big learning experience, but it was much too expensive for consumers. For us to make a contribution to solving the carbon waste problem, we needed a solution that’s accessible to more people – that’s how the idea for this Kickstarter was born.
The chair looks great and is everything you’d expect. This piece of Dutch Design is lightweight, made with a purpose and will last a lifetime and beyond.
Marleen continued working with the engineers and came up with a new design: 96% of the chair is made of recycled carbon from cutting waste. 4% make up the backrest and seat, which are made from carbon fibre tape, printed by the robot and fused together as it cools down. The robot lays down the entire pattern in large 10m2 sheets and we cut the backrest and seat from this. Therefore, each chair has a unique design, and if you place several chairs next to each other, you recognise that the pattern continues across the chairs. The carbon makes the chair very strong, and flexible (and therefore comfortable) and last but not least, ultra lightweight at 2.1kg a piece.
The design is finalized, prototypes have been made and the production process (including mitigations for all its risks) has been setup and tested. Now, all we need to do is produce a mould that makes it possible to produce on a larger scale. This is where the Kickstarter community comes in. We have set the funding goal of €28K to cover the production costs of the mould. Once that’s covered, we can start shipping the chairs to anywhere in the world. Also, Marleen has already started working on the next project and if we get up to €44K we can even make moulds for a table in different sizes. We’re on a mission to create beautiful, sustainable products with the help of talented designers and engineers and bring these to homes across the globe. We aim to make products that will last for generations and don’t add to the growing problems of our planet, and with your help we can actually help solve them. So thank you, from all of us!
Risks and challenges
We have been working on the Recycled Carbon Chair design and its manufacturing for the past two and a half years. We already produced a really complex – but limited edition – chair (the one in the Stedelijk Museum), we learned about the material and the robot, and we work closely with the best engineers in the field. Much preparation for series production has already been done and we're confident we'll be able to execute production and delivery smoothly and on time. We know that unexpected delays could happen, but we're fully committed to ensure that all our backers will get the best product and on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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