Furniture design with composite materials
This thesis examined the feasibility of fibre composite reinforcement in the furniture industry. The development of post war furniture design was reviewed, with particular emphasis on the main design movements and the use of new materials and technologies. The use of fibre composite materials in contemporary furniture was discussed in terms of technical development, environmental effects and psychological acceptance. Fibre reinforcements and adhesives were compared, as were fabrication techniques applicable to the existing British furniture industry. Particular emphasis has been placed on the fibre reinforcement of laminated timber sections as a method of overcoming many of the manufacturing problems of composites. Methods of analysing the behaviour under load of fibre reinforced laminated wood were reviewed. Resistance among the furniture buying public to modem, non-traditional furniture design was discussed, along with ways of making composite materials more aesthetically acceptable. Experimentation to determine the mechanical properties of fibre composite reinforced wood against wood control samples was undertaken, along with methods used to analyse the results for flat and curved samples. Modulus of elasticity, modulus of rupture and impact strength were measured, as was the level of distortion of the samples before and after testing. A full size chair form was produced to demonstrate the behaviour of the material on a larger scale. The development of the design was discussed in terms of ergonomic requirements, aesthetics, practicality and environmental concerns. The problem of predicting the behaviour of complex shapes was discussed and a finite element analysis of the form is carried out to gain an accurate picture of the composite's performance. Production of fibre reinforced materials was discussed, along with the furniture industry's reluctance to invest in new materials and technologies. The feasibility of adapting traditional furniture making skills and equipment to the production of fibre composite reinforced wood has been assessed.