It has long since become established for furniture buyers to assemble their own tables and chairs. So far, many manufacturers offer such ready-to-assemble furniture, but the packages typically include mass-produced panels and hardware. A development by researchers at MIT could now pave the way to lot size 1 finished furniture. With the Autosaw system, users can choose from a number of template furniture designs, but still customize before cutting, for example, to match the shape of the spatial conditions. The subsequent cutting is done by robots in combination with jigsaws, circular saws, and drills. In the final step, the user then assembles the furniture by hand, as is common practice today.
The trend towards customized products and thus industrial production in lot size 1 is already clearly visible in other sectors, for example, in the assembly of new vehicles. With the transition to Industry 4.0 technologies, one in five industrial companies can now produce customized products at the cost of mass production. In five years, half of all German industrial companies should be able to work at such low cost. However, the Autosaw technology developed at MIT goes one step further. It shifts part of the production straight to the customer.