Digitally Moulded Plywood
DMP (Digitally Moulded Plywood) is an experimental process of forming curved plywood, optimised for distributed manufacturing. By using a universal aligning spine and precisely machined wood instead of a mould to laminate the wood, new possibilities emerge to democratise the production of curved plywood; enabling a new generation of designers, makers, and the curious, to create with this high-strength, beautiful and natural material.
Typically, the production of any curved plywood requires some kind of former to give the wood its shape. While the production of curved plywood can be quite rapid and simple, the creation of the former is always either laborious, time and material expensive, requiring specialist equipment and skills, or all of the above. The machining of curved wood is also vastly more complicated than that of the flat variety.
For these reasons, moulded plywood pieces are produced either in great quantity or at great expense. This manufacturing constraint is the reason why plywood is much more frequently used in sheet form; where it can be much more easily cut and made use of.
This has also been encouraged by the popularisation of CNC routers, allowing for reliable and accessible machining of highly complicated designs, which can be digitally shared – even though the resultant products are heavier, weaker, and arguably less attractive, compared to their curved counterparts.
DMP aims to utilise the same capabilities that CNC routers boast – in combination with a universal aligning spine and a simple clamping system; to make possible the production of curved pieces without requiring the creation of a former. From a simple two-dimensional curve, design software can generate the appropriate digital information required by the CNC router.
The spine and the resultant negative designed to give the plywood its shape have both been designed to strike the optimal balance between reliability in forming, accuracy in resultant profile, and efficiency, by making the digital tooling as lightweight and fast as possible.
Freed from the dependence upon a mould, this could open up a new world of local, customisable plywood manufacturing. Furniture wouldn’t need to be of a few standard sizes. Items considered too bespoke, or without a large enough market, could now be viable for production in plywood. Much like the materials boom in the post-WW2 era, plywood could enter a new renaissance.
School of Design
MA Design Products, 2019
My work is based around meaningful interventions that are thoroughly explored and developed for the unusual and unanticipated – also known as the real world.
I am interested in efficiency and viability; both of the things we make, and the tools and processes we utilise – and design for. But more than what is optimal now, I like to think about what could be possible, if those tools and processes were to be optimised further. By looking downstream into the essence of how we create things in the world today, and implementing real honest change there, I believe we have the most power to shape the future into something that works better for all of us.
- BEng Design with Engineering Materials, Loughborough University, 2014
- Fabricator, Daniel Silver, London, 2018; Junior visualiser, Millerhare Ltd, London, 2015–2017; Design technician, Bott Ltd, 2014–2015
- Innovation RCA: Design for Health, 2017; Ki Award, 2019