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Bioeconomy Region

Student shows that the climate-smart interior of the future is 3D printed

News 2019-06-20

The student Malin Fleen has created a biocomposite furniture using 3D printer. Her work hints that the interior of the future might be bio-based and far more reusable than today’s furniture.


Furniture design student Malin Fleen has identified and demonstrated the benefits of bio-based 3D printing by designing, developing and producing a new type of armchair. The innovation is a part of her thesis project at the University of Gothenburg.


Her furniture is made with additive manufacturing technology, meaning 3D printing, at a test facility called The Wood Region. The 3D printing workshop in Sysslebäck, Sweden, is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Malin Fleen’s armchair consists of wood-based biocomposite, epoxy and linen. The method and material can basically be used to produce any shape. Furthermore, if you are not satisfied with the result, or when the product is worn out, it is possible to grind the material and reuse it for a new design.



Malin Fleen with her 3D printed design at the University of Gothenburg’s thesis exhibition. The chair to the left comes directly from the printer and the right chair shows what it looks like when it is laminated. On the floor lies the materials that have been used.


Carpenter with a green idea


It all started with an idea that she had while working as a sailboat builder. Traditionally, less environmentally friendly materials such as plastic, glass fibre and carbon fibre are used for boat production. But Malin Fleen had a vision of using bio-based materials instead, which is better for the environment.


Malin learned that linen can be used as a laminate – a realisation that took her one step closer to her dream of a more sustainable boat industry. But she still lacked a suitable core material for the shape that she wanted to accomplish.


“I came into contact with The Wood Region at a lecture at the university and discovered the potential in 3D printing with biocomposite material. All pieces fell into place and my thesis project began to take shape”, Malin Fleen tells.



No wear and tear


“The Wood Region crew has been very helpful. I have tested the laminate, printed various models and received good advice,” Malin Fleen says.


Malin also collaborated with the boat manufacturer Baltic Yachts and the biomaterial producer UPM during her thesis work which she calls “From company to design with sustainability in mind”. The armchair is an example of what can be done, and the same material can very well appear as future furnishings in boats and cars, in public environments or in homes.


“The material comes from renewable sources and can be reused, which is of great benefit to the environment. 3D prints are suitable for soft shapes and it is much easier to print than to create them by hand. So, this method it is also sustainable for companies in terms of time and money. Plus, the material resists weather and wind.”