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Paper Finds Its Way into the Furniture Market

Taiwanese manufacturers adopt the material of the future

Oct 15, 2014 | By CENS

By MICHELLE HSU

With the rise of environmental awareness, the concept of "green" is gradually finding its way into works of creation, and paper is being applied ever more widely in furniture design and production as an eco-friendly alternative to solid wood.

From the simple cabinets and seating items of the early days to the more sophisticated products of today, paper furniture has developed into a major sector of the furniture market, an emerging niche with both green and creative features. Besides, paper furniture is lightweight and easy to transport, making it convenient for the user to carry out adjustment in furniture arrangement.

news-photoPaper, a material acclaimed as an eco-friendly alternative to solid wood, is being increasingly used in furniture design and production.

In Taiwan, the paper furniture sector is growing as an increasing number of paper carton producers turns to furniture, using their grasp of the characteristics of paper to design and manufacture furniture.

news-photoPaper furniture is lightweight and easy to transport, making it convenient for users to carry out furniture adjustments.

Honeycomb Furniture
Taishin Honeycomb Corp., for example, has been engaged in the development and manufacturing of paper "honeycombs" since 1993. These honeycombs, the company explains, have a highly robust structural integrity and are set to become a widely-used material, for building and other purposes, in the 21st century.

According to the company, the development of honeycomb materials already spans more than 70 years. They were manufactured (in metal) as early as the Second World War to reduce the weight and increase the flying distance of aircraft, being first used in British fighters and bombers around 1940. The technology was later transferred to the United States and applied by Boeing Hexcel, helping to make Boeing's bombers more lightweight, larger, and able to fly longer distances.

The Material of the Future
Later, on account of their superior structural strength and light weight, honeycomb materials began to be employed in various land-based industries. With all its advantages, honeycomb technology will become a mainstream in 21st century industrial design.

The manufacturing of doors, furniture, decorative fixtures, OA compartment partitions, curtain walls, interior and exterior partition walls, acoustic insulation walls, ceilings, form boards, vehicle bodies carriages, paper pallets, boxes, cartons, and fillers used in the packaging industry will come to use honeycomb structures.

As a specialized producer of honeycomb materials, Taishin Honeycomb has introduced a wide range of honeycomb furniture and other products.

Positive Acclaim
news-photoTaishin Honeycomb completed its showroom in Taoyuan Aerotropolis in August 2014.

Taiwan did not come late to the use of honeycomb technology. Honeycomb materials were first used on the island, however, mostly as structural materials in doors and partition screens; they rarely attracted the attention of other industries, and so had a very narrow range of application. Furthermore, lacking its own manufacturers of honeycomb production equipment, Taiwan had to rely on imports.

So, according to Taishin Honeycomb officials, “From the beginning, we set our sights on self-help development, independently completing all relevant processes from product development and process design to the development of machinery, and now the commercial production of honeycomb core materials has begun.”

Taishin Honeycomb has created a manufacturing capability and developed a quality that goes beyond that provided by machinery from the United States, Japan, and other countries. In the process, it has obtained a number of patents. “We have earned technical recognition," company executives say, "but we also hope that Taiwanese industries will use and promote honeycombs more, so we are seeking new partners for design research and development and for market development.”

Taishin Honeycomb completed a new showroom in Taoyuan Aerotropolis in August, and at the same time entered into a cooperative project with a senior high school to teach students how to design furniture with honeycomb materials.

news-photoTaishin Honeycomb has entered into a cooperative project with a senior high school to teach students how to design furniture using honeycomb materials.

Corrugated Fiberboard Furniture
The National Taiwan University of Science & Technology (NTUST), well known for its industrial design courses, is engaged in several industrial-academic collaboration projects where students are trained in how to use recycled corrugated fiberboard to create furniture.

NTUST students use corrugated fiberboard and cardboard tubes to make 'Corrugated Fiberboard Furniture System' items which are one-piece in form, easy to assemble and move to different table heights, and offer simple replacement of components.

The university's students have taken materials provided by paper mills and used them to design a sturdy and durable 'Corrugated Fiberboard Furniture System' series ready for industrial production.

NTUST's architecture faculty and the Yuen Foong Yu Group held a 'That's Not All - Yuen Foong Yu Corrugated Fiberboard Furniture Design' exhibition in Taipei's Wanhua District earlier this year, highlighting the results of their cooperation and showing off the results of the university's furniture design courses.

news-photoNTUST's architecture faculty and the Yuen Foong Yu Group held a 'That's Not All - Yuen Foong Yu Corrugated Fiberboard Furniture Design' exhibition in Taipei's Wanhua District earlier this year.

NTUST furniture design teacher Wu Bohan commented, "There are many forms of corrugated fiberboard; there are paper tubes, there are corrugated boards, there are honeycomb panels. And each material has a different strength, as well its own particular characteristics. We are using these materials and characteristics to make paper furniture."

All the works in the exhibition were highly practical and were painted with a waterproof coating, making them very durable. Such "green creativity" allowed the architecture students to bring their abundant energy into full play.

Corrugated fiberboard has more than 100 years of history and features the advantages of low cost, light weight, ease of processing, high strength, and suitability for printing. Apart from meeting the demand for environmental protection by using corrugated fiberboard materials, the works on show at the exhibition also accommodated trends in the furniture design world, using bonding techniques or latch principles.

news-photoCorrugated fiberboard has more than 100 years of history and features the advantages of low cost, light weight, ease of processing, high strength, and suitability for printing.

Corrugated fiberboard furniture, decorative furnishings made ​​of mixed pulp, and woven storage baskets--all use natural materials and have unadorned, simple, and straightforward characteristics that bring a different kind of feeling to home life.

Woven Chairs
Two of the school's architecture students, Gu Bei-nan and Zhang Pei-shan, have solved the problem of creasing of corrugated fiberboard. Their creations not only have long lives, but are also more comfortable to sit on.

Through creative thinking, corrugated fiberboard can not only be made into furniture for the office and for everyday living, but can also be woven into wicker chairs. The usual issues with corrugated cardboard chairs are insufficient durability and structural strength; but the students weave corrugated fiberboard into chairs strip by strip, increasing their support strength and elasticity, thus enhancing comfort.

"Paper chairs that are sat on for a long time often cave in!" exclaimed Gu. To overcome the problems of inadequate durability and structural integrity, he turned his mind to 'wicker chairs' and the utilization of corrugated fiberboard clippings.  "After clipping," he explained, "the smaller the area, the more fragile it is, especially with long strips of corrugated fiberboard." Weaving corrugated fiberboard clippings into sheet form not only permits the dispersal of body weight and strengthened support, but also adds to the chair's elasticity.

"When we sit on ordinary corrugated cardboard furniture," the student noted, "we destroy its surface texture. I wondered, could we begin by working out the bigger problems of corrugated fiberboard? So I just took the entire surface, and cut it into strips."

Another striking item on display at the show was a rotating chair made of huge paper tubes stuffed with smaller paper tubes. The lattice work of the bottom half of the chair allowed light to pass through. The work was replete with creativity and ingenuity, and a great display of the features of corrugated cardboard.


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