Repurposed Robot Prints 3D Furniture from Trash

Electrical appliances that once would have ended up in landfills or third-world dumping grounds are being transformed into colorful modern furniture – by a repurposed robot. Dutch designer Dirk Vander Koolj’s new line of furniture, called ‘Endless’, might just be about as eco-friendly as furniture made of synthetic materials can get.

Vander Koolj reprogrammed an old industrial robot to melt down the plastics from old, unwanted refrigerators and then extrude them into new, three-dimensional shapes. Each chair is created using a continuous thread of plastic that is built upon itself by the machine, layer by layer. Anytime he wants to change the design Vander Koolj simply reprograms the machine.  The ‘Endless’ line will be on display at this year’s 2012 Milan Furniture Fair.

3D printing is already being used on a smaller scale to produce all kinds of interesting products. For example, Etsy seller Wearable Planters offers a set of tiny 3D-printed pots that can be strapped to bicycles or worn as jewelry. Other applications are much broader in scope, like a concept that would pair up a certain type of soil bacteria with a 3D printer to bind sand into bio-cement and shape it into bricks  for use as electricity transmission towers in remote desert locations.