This stool rocks: the first design released by Fabsie.

Fabsie is a new platform that could revolutionise the way we design and manufacture furniture. Here is how it works: a designer uploads a CAD file of one of their wooden furniture designs, say a chair; it is reviewed by a team of designers at Fabsie and, if they like it, it’s advertised on their site; when a customer wants to buy the chair, Fabsie will send the CAD file to a CNC (3D cutting) machine workshop near to their home where it is downloaded and the parts cut out of plywood; the customer can then collect the parts (or have it delivered) and assemble the piece of furniture at home.

Bespoke cutting

Customers also have the ability to customize the design, making a bespoke product that won’t cost the earth. Designer and co-founder of Fabise, James McBennett, says, “It really democratizes the bespoke.” So, for example, if you want to buy bookshelves that fit exactly within the parameters of your living room, you can simply email the measurements, which can then be incorporated into the CAD file before it is sent to the CNC machine. As McBennett says, “It is something that all those old industrial manufacturing companies just can’t do.”

Cantilever chair designed by James McBennett.

He continues, “We’ve had requests from people saying, ‘can we make it taller for somebody who is 6ft 5”’ or, ‘can we make it smaller for our kids,’ by parents who want their children to improve their posture and we can switch those dimensions easily so the stool can fit perfectly in people’s homes.”

Mass personalisation is the innovation of the twenty-first century

McBennett himself has designed Fabsie’s first piece of furniture – a rocking stool made up of three parts, which can be assembled in less than ten seconds. They are looking to raise money for Fabsie by crowdfunding on Kickstarter, where, if you pledge a certain amount, they will send you a stool with your name or company logo carved into it.


What makes this business plan possible is the growing availability of CNC routers. McBennett says, “CNC machines are nothing new but the sharp drop in price for a machine is completely radically new.”

The Martine Table can be assembled in 10 seconds.

Not only does that mean there will be a rise in the number of CNC workshops but also, in the not too distant future, the customer might own a domestic version of the machine. This way people could download the CAD file and cut their own furniture at home.

CNC, which stands for computer numerical control, is a system that allows for precise, automated cutting and drilling in three dimensions. It is very similar to 3D printing in this way but, unlike the latter which is still at a specialist or hobbyist stage, CNC machines have been used in the manufacturing process since the 1970s. In fact, most people will have come into contact with a product that has been created using one of these machines – if you own an Apple Macbook, for example, the unibody aluminium casing was created using one of these routers.

On a CNC machine you can make a dining room table in a couple of minutes

Mass personalisation

It is the availability of these machines and the ease with which designs can be personalised with the arrival of a platform such as Fabsie that will transform the way we manufacture. McBennett notes, “Mass production was the innovation of the twentieth century; mass personalisation is the innovation of the twenty-first century.”

Interestingly, McBennett believes that it is 3D cutting and not 3D printing that is going to change the manufacturing landscape. Currently, 3D cutters are way ahead of the printers in terms of what they can do. McBennett says, “It can take a couple of hours to make a small earring on a 3D printer, whereas on a CNC machine you can make a dining room table in a couple of minutes.”

If Fabsie piques your curiosity go to their Kickstarter page here. With 30 days to go they have already raised nearly £9,000 of the £25,000 target.


The End
  • Guest

    There’s many companies doing CNC furniture at the moment! Some would offer just CNC cutting, some would also offer advice… Designers have been there for ages. Don’t see anything innovative here, apart from the effort to open it to the masses, which won’t probably know how to make the drawings needed…

    • Anonymous

      Hi, as I was saying, CNC machines have been used for a while. What is interesting about Fabsie is that it opens it up to designers at one end, who can submit their CAD files and, perhaps more importantly, it allows the customer to customize the design to suit their needs the other end. It is this dialogue between the parties that makes this platform fairly unique.

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