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“From recycling to upcycling”: an interview with Dr. Sascha Peters

25 Nov 2016

Recycling & Upcycling

Special area "Innovation of Interior" at the interzum 2015 © Koelnmesse

Upcycling and sustainable materials cycles are the topic of a special area that is being designed for the upcoming interzum 2017 by Dr. Sascha Peters. We spoke with the renowned expert in materials about the concept behind the special event, innovative uses and manufacturing technologies as well as furniture made from biomaterials.

Dr. Sascha Peters, you were responsible for the special event area “Smart Office Materials” at ORGATEC in October 2016, a role you also held two years ago. “Smart Office Materials” is a format that was initially developed for interzum. What innovations were shown at that presentation? Have your areas of focus changed since the last edition of the trade fair?

In the last few years, we have identified two fields where companies and research institutes are very active in the development of innovative materials that can play a role in modern homes and worlds of work. The number and diversity of applications for smart materials – materials that react to external influences and environmental factors – has increased significantly. Another focus in our special area was on the intelligent use of unusual resources, in most cases natural materials that are not normally used. One of the exhibits was a stool made out of antiseptic birchbark.

Recycling & Upcycling

What do the new options in materials and processing mean for applications in office architecture and furniture?

Functional materials and the intelligent use of materials give designers and architects of modern work environments the opportunity to work much more consciously with the available resources. Smart materials react automatically to changing influences from the environment and they act to the benefit of people in areas such as shading, climate control, acoustics and lighting. With these materials, office design can really be stripped down to the basics. The use of materials and hence the weight of system components are reduced, which represents the ideal response to the requirement for adaptability in office environments and for workplace flexibility.

“Smart” materials call for innovative forms of production. What interesting approaches are there in this regard, and in which direction are they heading?

Without question, the most interesting development in innovative production methods is 3D printing, a so-called additive manufacturing technology that is not based on conventional, material-subtractive processes, as is the case with milling, turning or drilling. Instead it works by building up or “adding” the material. The biggest advantage of these manufacturing technologies is that even complex component geometries with internal cavity structures can be implemented: these are structures that cannot be produced in any other way. When 3D printing is combined with the options that digitalisation and online data transfer open up, we seem to be a step closer to individualised product manufacturing.

Recycling & Upcycling