Gareth Neal and The New Raw develop a crafts-based 3D printing style.

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British designer Gareth Neal and Dutch studio The New Raw have teamed up to create a series of objects called Digitally Woven. These objects are made using thrice-recycled plastic and a new 3D-printing method that prints in loops instead of layers.

The collaboration between Neal and The New Raw was showcased at the Material Matters fair during the London Design Festival. The collection included a pink chair called Loopy and three vessels that resemble woven baskets.

Neal is known for his furniture designs that incorporate heritage crafts, while The New Raw specializes in robotic manufacturing with plastic waste. They joined forces to explore how traditional craft techniques could inform a new style of 3D printing.

Their goal was to develop a method that would allow for imperfections in the final product, reducing waste due to misprints. The Digitally Woven objects were created using interlocking loops, providing strength to the structures. This technique also allowed them to use three-times recycled plastic, a rarely used material.

Unlike typical 3D printing, where the filament is added in layers, their technique involves the printing robot extruding thicker cords of material in a looped pattern. The print lines are based on hand-drawn patterns, giving the objects a nuanced look inspired by natural movement and crafting tools.

The project, funded by a European Union grant, involved a steep learning curve for Neal, as he was unfamiliar with additive manufacturing and working with plastic. However, the experimentation resulted in a breakthrough, with the creation of open weave structures that are structurally strong and lightweight, using only half the normal amount of material.

Neal plans to expand and refine the range of Digitally Woven products. The Loopy chair can be customized in any color, using plastic from any waste stream.

This collaboration highlights the importance of the relationship between artists and manufacturers, as open experimentation can lead to new approaches to traditional methods. This project has allowed Gareth Neal to explore new techniques and materials, pushing the boundaries of his craft.

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