Wood in the high tech environment a visit to the technology fair in Queens New York

This weekend I entered one of the more fascinating and cheerfuller parlors of Americana I  have ever visited. It was an event that featured the talents, achievements and entrepreneurship of young inventors, makers and developers of "things". Though most presenters were displaying things related to cutting edge technology, such as rapid prototyping machines, robotics and electronics, some makers where still clinging on to the 20th or even 19th century, showing and selling gizmos such as artistic door knobs and hand leather face masks. The "Maker Faire" (this is the official name of the event) also hosted boothes of esoteric makers such as Steam Punk hat makers, a kaleidoscope maker and a guy who makes all sorts of interesting objects from old NYC subway cards.

Obviously I was more interested in makers who use wood and in seeing what the role of wood is in new technology. It was both surprising and encouraging to find out that even in the 21st century and among all those new cutting-edge materials, wood still has a place, and even a prominent one.
3D Printers rule the new world.
These amazing machines print out 3D objects that the designer devised on using a 3D program. You make a ball or a wheel or the Statue of Liberty on your PC and the printer melts a thread of plastic and gradually "prints up" your computer model with ease. It was fun to see how most of these 3D printers are shelled in a casing made out of high grade plywood. The plywood casing parts had been cut out by a C.N.C laser or a C.N.C router.

Other High-tech wood related companies showed of their ability to make knock-down designs for furniture made predominantly from plywood or MDF. Once you like their design they refer you to a local shop that can cut you the parts. All that is left out to do is to go and pick up the parts and assemble the original furniture. This way you don't have to pay for costly shipping.

Their designers don't limit themselves only to wood; They are capable of producing designs for metal furniture too. The parts for the metal furniture can be cut by water jet machines, or laser cutters. The scaled models of the beds are made from aluminum plate that was cut this way.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry as I am going to show some more High-tech furniture made from plywood

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Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.