Self assembly, the hallmark of IKEA and other lower cost brands, has been a challenge for consumers. Who among us was not left with a small piece that is not a spare at the end? Where did we go wrong? Connectors that snap pieces together, and where needed guide nails and screws, can change this experience completely. Connectors can be very versatile, giving designers the freedom to lock in a design (as we saw with Minale-Maeda‘s Keystones), or create an open platform that the consumer can use as a basis for slight or major customizations (like Moidules featured, like some of the below, in a popular Tessa’s weekly picks). Here are 4 snap assemblies for bookcases and tables and 2 more bonuses that use connectors for non-furniture purposes.
It’s the Angle, Baby
Ollé Gallért designed connectors that allow you to design your own bookcase. Unlike many right angle connector, Olle also included other angles that create a richer set of possibilities for the consumer (see detail up top and bookcase below). A fellow Hungarian, Tamás Boldizsár, also designed 3D printed connectors with different angles creating pyramids which can be combined to form a piece of furniture such as an armchair or ottoman.
The design of many connectors is a prominent feature of the final piece which create uneven surface edges, as seen above. In +wood, design student Tobias Lugmeier opted to design connectors that are flush with the wood (see detail below) creating an even look which can accommodate various finishes easily. The down side is that the plywood needs to be prepared to accept the connector and be flush with it. Not a problem for brands like IKEA but might be a problem for DIYers that are getting their own planks.
Linking Coffee (Table)
Christian Sjöström created a furniture version of tinker toys, called Link, where wooden logs with indentations and holes, connect with specialty 3D printed joints, creating furniture such as the coffee table below. The joints are designed so they can also be made from cast aluminium.
Pull up a Chair
We’ve mentioned TAKT’s 3 Pring products before. Several of the Muji upcycles in that project are essentially connectors. In particular, the connector below is used to create a table from 4 Muji chairs. Muji itself is space conscious and this is a nice way to have 4 extra chairs hidden away for a party in a tight apartment, for example. On the other hand, careful where you put your knees… Other designers have upcycled smaller everyday items with connectors too: Michiel Cornelissen upcycled pencils, David Graas upcycled PET bottles, etc.
Bonus: Pipes and Plumbing
Maya Ben David created the Bypass project: 3D printed connectors to help with pipes and plumbing in unusual situations, some more useful than others. Strictly speaking, these are not a snap, they’re a twist, but the purpose is the same: to make it easy to customize (plumbing in this case) to specific situations.
Bonus: Lincoln Lego
We’ve highlighted these connectors between different children’s construction sets (Lego, Lincoln Logs, Knex, Tinker Toys, etc) in a previous post of ours but just had to mention them again. The Universal Adaptor Brick, below, is as an extreme form of connector: it connects to all the construction sets covered by the Free Universal Construction Kit.
Have we covered your favorite 3D printed connector? Please add more connectors in the comments.