We founded AtFAB, our design firm, to produce simple, well made objects in an environmentally sound way, and to connect more directly with the people we design for. Inspired by the optimism of the growing DIY/Maker Community, and convinced by the power of CNC fabrication tools, we designed a few pieces of utilitarian furniture that could be digitally fabricated anywhere, and easily assembled by anyone.
A Growing Furniture Collection. Eventually, these few pieces evolved into an expanding line of furniture that we prototyped, field tested, and ultimately produced for clients. As our collection grew, we shared designs with an online Maker community, who downloaded our open source cut files to fabricate furniture at CNC equipped hacker spaces throughout the world. By moving information globally to fabricate locally, our collaboration from afar produced furniture with much less embedded energy. Since launching, AtFAB’s furniture has been met with much enthusiasm and encouragement by individuals, makers, industry, and media. In response, we want to manufacture pieces for the many people who are seeking thoughtfully designed, precisely made, heirloom furniture that’s produced in an environmentally conscious way.
Manufacturing 3 Easy Pieces. We're on Kickstarter to build a distributed network of remote CNC fabrication shops and make our first manufacturing run of 3 AtFAB Furniture designs: a Side Chair, Coffee Table and Pair of Stools. This run will be a greener, local way of producing large goods, and will strengthen what we see as a new entrepreneurial platform for designers like ourselves to address unarticulated needs, and connect directly with the people for whom they design.
Experience Has Prepared Us Well
Prototyping the Designs. We designed AtFAB Furniture so it maximizes CNC machine intelligence and taps into the well-optimized, global plywood material stream. Each furniture piece can be cut from any sheet material, and requires nothing more than basic assembly with simple screws to complete. We rigorously designed, prototyped, and field tested numerous iterations to ensure consistent successful outcomes anywhere. We made many scale prototypes on laser cutters, water jets and routers, which allowed us to play with diverse materials ranging from plastics to aluminum to every plywood imaginable.
Prototyping the Process...Worldwide. As part of our research and testing, we observed and listened to a global community of Makers to crowd source and assess the feasibility of a distributed fabrication network. We've been frequently delighted by images from makers around the world, who downloaded, modified, and fabricated their interpretations of our furniture designs. In the process, they've validated our effort to integrate designs and workflow to produce successful outcomes across widely varied machines, materials, and contexts.
Go Team Robot Machines. Recognizing our common ground, MakerBot Industries commissioned us to design, fabricate and deliver dozens of customized furniture pieces for their new headquarters in Brooklyn. The entire delivery process put the furniture and the system to the test, and provided a chance to expand AtFAB Furniture designs and to integrate 3D printed marquetry and details.
Back Us & Join the Revolution
We can bring manufacturing closer. More small workshops are owning and operating CNC machines, and new digital fabrication networks like Ponoko and 100kGarages are connecting them to designers. Our first manufacturing run will bring together these powerful resources by networking a production line across 2-3 remote, independent CNC Pilot Shops to make a limited collection of AtFAB Furniture.
Greener as it Grows. By backing a furniture piece, your pledge establishes our production workflow and quality control standards, and facilitates our integration with Ponoko’s system. These initial steps are the seeds that will allow us to keep on going, ultimately adding new pieces and features to the line and more CNC shops to the network. By scaling up, manufacture becomes increasingly local. In a radical break from the centralized factory model, distributed growth occurs with the possibility of less overhead, shipping distances, and environmental impact.
Get Great Furniture.
Cat in Bag ii Coffee Table. This version of the Cat in Bag ii Table is a low coffee table that measures 39," corner to corner. It's made from 5 pieces that slot together, which are secured with nickel plated hardware. It will arrive flat packed with all parts, hardware, tools and instructions. It comes in your choice of premium, pre-finished Appleply plywood in American White Oak (left) or Ash (right) veneer. See more details here.
5 to 30 Minute Chair. This sturdy side chair will arrive flat packed with all parts, hardware, tools and instructions. It comes in your choice of premium, pre-finished Appleply plywood in American White Oak (left) or Ash (right) veneer. See more details here.
Rotational Stools. These versatile stools, which are available in two versions that share identical proportions, can be used as end tables, pedestals or a quick seat. These are available as singles or in a pair and will arrive flat packed with all parts, hardware, tools and instructions. It comes in your choice of premium, pre-finished Appleply plywood in American White Oak (left) or Ash (right) veneer. See more details here.
Maker Pack. Back us and get a MakerPack that includes a "Made Here" or "Cut Files" T-shirt in an American Apparel slate blue, as well as 9 Kickstarter Edition (CC-BY-SA-NC) cut files of our favorite pieces in all new proportions. Fabricate all 9 at a local hacker space or TechShop, or with the help of a nearby 100kGarages fabber.
Post Cards & T-Shirts. Tell the world that you champion local alternatives to the transportation-intensive centralized factory model with an AtFAB "Cut File" or "Made Here" T-Shirt in American Apparel's slate blue. Receive an AtFAB postcard, a glossy high-res print of one of our renderings on premium card stock.
AtFAB Pioneer Pack. Be patron and support the expansion of the AtFAB Furniture manufacturing line. Choose a piece from our next furniture collection. These larger and slightly more complex furniture pieces have been thoroughly prototyped and are ready to manufacture. You can find more about the dimensions and details of each piece here. Each piece will come in your choice of either American White Oak or Ash Veneer. Delivered flatpack to your door.
Making it Happen
We're ready to manufacture. We've prototyped the Five to Thirty Minute Chair, Cat in Bag ii Coffee Table and the Rotational Stools extensively. We've already reached out to Ponoko to help us manage furniture fulfillments, have confirmed availability of several trusted fabbers, and have material availability and pricing from Appleply. We are ready to productively link AtFAB, Ponoko’s system, the fabbers, and their machines.
Sustainably Sourced Material. Each piece from our First Run will be digitally crafted from pre-finished Appleply plywood. Its 15 super-thin sustainably harvested plies are laminated with environmentally friendly adhesives, and perfectly complement the precise digitally cut joinery of AtFAB’s volumetric shapes. We’ll make your piece in a choice of satin finished American White Oak or Ash veneers, which subtly contrast with the exposed ply edges. You’ll receive a complete package delivered directly from our nearest CNC shop that contains all flat-packed parts and fasteners. It also includes tools and intuitive instructions for simple assembly (and disassembly).
Project Schedule & Fulfillment Process. We will schedule time at each shop to establish quality control standards by producing an initial manufacturing test run of the three designs. Once the quality standards and workflow are set, we’ll order material to begin production of furniture fulfillments. The entire process takes 12-14 weeks, delivering furniture to our backers by late-October.
Undertaking a Large Project. Below is a video of AtFAB Furniture being fabricated and assembled in a CNC shop, just like the one that will be making your piece. Backing a piece from the first line will keep a shop busy. The video below shows fabricating a custom project for MakerBot Industries, which involved many different pieces that were shipped pre-assembled their new headquarters.
Business infrastructure. We've set aside time and a budget to develop basic business infrastructure that will keep the production lines open after the first run fulfillments are shipped. We've also devoted a budget to fabricating and photographing the first 12 pieces in our furniture line, so we can have great images that communicate every detail of our designs.
The First Run is Only the Beginning
More Pieces & More Shops. AtFAB is a big project with equally big plans. As our final First Run pieces are delivered to backers, we'll be able to shift our distributed production line to produce e-commerce orders. You’ll likely see us again on Kickstarter, as we take what we learn from the First Run and launch our next sets of furniture pieces into production.
Customize! Just as the furniture was designed to be made with any material, by anyone, anywhere, it was also designed for customization. Being able to tailor a piece's dimensions greatly expands the furniture line's scope of use, which drove us to develop applets, which we feature on our website. They enable anyone to modify the dimensions, material thickness and other elements of our furniture designs from resizing a dining table into a small desk to stretching a chair to become a bench, to modifying a storage unit to display a particular collection.
Try the Apps Here or scroll below to the video that shows them in use. While we've utilized these applets in-house, fully integrating this level customization requires development and expertise. This is a step we want to reach soon, because we think the only thing that surpasses our ambitions to manufacturing AtFAB in a distributed factory...is manufacturing customized AtFAB.
This video below, which was part of a recent exhibition on AtFAB at MIT's Keller Gallery, demonstrates the apps and how each piece transforms.
Risks and challenges
Through our prototyping, field testing, and work for clients, we've ferreted out many of the unknowns in producing the furniture. Our experience with scheduling, workflows, and quality control grew last fall with the large production volume required to outfit MakerBot Industries Headquarters with furniture and custom casework. We have taken steps to mitigate what we see as our biggest risks. Our greatest challenge is achieving the quality and consistency of a centralized factory with multiple shops, so that every backer receives consistent goods. We built an extensive local prototyping process into our budget and schedule to troubleshoot surprises that emerge around quality control. Plywood is our other challenge, as it is a natural product that has dimensional and visual inconsistencies. We’ve chosen to keep working with Appleply, because it has better dimensional stability and consistently high quality veneers, cores, and face finishes. Finally, we have some unknowns around packaging for shipment, and have also allocated an adequate budget and schedule to develop this secondary, but important detail.
All backers who pledge for any piece of furniture - whether a Stool (single, early bird or pair), Side Chair, or Coffee Table - will also receive an AtFAB T-Shirt as well as 9 Digital Files and Booklet.
INTERNATIONAL PACK: Your choice of any furniture item - the Cat in Bag ii Coffee Table, Five to Thirty Minute Chair, or pair of Rotational Stool designs. In your choice of either American White Oak or Ash Veneer. Delivered anywhere in the world, flatpack to your door with an AtFAB T-Shirt. <<With a critical mass of backers from your country, we'll find your closest CNC fabber and work to have your furniture locally made.>>
AtFAB SUPER PACK: Receive all 3 furniture items: An AtFAB Cat in Bag ii Coffee Table, a Five to Thirty Minute Chair and both Rotational Stool designs. In your choice of either American White Oak or Ash Veneer. Delivered flatpack to your door with a pair of T-Shirts!
AtFAB PIONEER PACK: Be a patron and receive your choice of a pre-release from our next generation furniture run. Choose a Ninety Minute Lounge Chair, Rotational Table, or Rotational Cabinet. In your choice of either American White Oak or Ash Veneer. Delivered flatpack to your door with a pair of T-Shirts!