Sustainable Production

Why David Kan makes with Technoply

New Zealander David Kan first came across Ponoko online, which searching for a laser cutting company to produce a functioning prototype of his  table The Apollo.

How did you used to make products before Ponoko?

I’ve made several one-off pieces of furniture for myself and clients in traditional workshop environments.  I’ve used other local laser cutting firms to produce models.   Most of my recent works are sent as plans to China and New Zealand manufacturers; joiners, steel workers, glass firms etc.

All my past work has been one-off pieces – generally integrated furniture/joinery. Due to Ponoko’s decentralised production capacity I am now able to mass-produce, an option normally quite difficult in New Zealand.

How would you describe your creative process?

Diverse – my formal creative processes are the same as anyone with a design degree. I generally apply the appropriate processes to synthesise a solution.  I consider myself more of an artisan than a designer when it comes to creating objects that have a pre-determined function, such as my table The Apollo.

I have two fundamental principles:

Function:    A product must function well; the same as (or preferably better than) anything people have used before.

Form:          It has to delight; people simply won’t buy what they don’t like.

What material/s do you use/ have you used and why?

Technoply for The Apollo because wood is a carbon sink, using the carbon from 1.8 kg of CO2 for every 1kg of wood. Processing solid wood wastes between 30 to 60% of the raw timber; when producing Plywood, the waste is only about 15%. Technoply comes from sustainable plantations. A further advantage of plywood is that it is resistant to cracking, twisting/warping, shrinkage, and is stronger than solid timber. These features are critical for The Apollo’s space frame to succeed.

Have you been surprised by anything in the Ponoko process:

I read about the concept of decentralised production/micro factories around the year 2000 in New Scientist.  I really enjoyed the fact that Ponoko grew that concept into a solid making system. I would really like to see new manufacturing processes from Ponoko, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Do you have any tips for other users?

Exploit the technology. Laser cutting is capable of complex and dynamic forms; I don’t think I could have produced The Apollo as easily in any other process than Ponoko’s making system.  Use parametric design where applicable, the 94 joins in the Apollo would have been a nightmare without it.

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