What is Parametric Furniture Design, and How is it Shaping the Industry?

Trent Still February 26, 2021 3 min read

A look at how the modern furniture design process allows designers to utilize woodworking 3D design software and parametric design features.

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Credenza design in Fusion 360.

Woodworking and furniture design, in days past, consisted of handcrafting techniques that required time, various physical prototypes, and excess materials. Today, a shift in the furniture design process has allowed woodworkers to utilize woodworking design software. Fusion 360, a 3D modeling software tool is used to execute comprehensive alterations to various design parameters. Parametric furniture design provides an innovative, cost-effective, and efficient alternative to traditional furniture and woodworking design methods.

The Basics of Parametric Furniture Design

Parametric design is a method centered on algorithmic computing. It articulates parameters and rules to identify the relationship between design intent and design response. Woodworkers can create a 3D model of a table, chair, desk, bookshelf, or any other design and adjust specific parameters to test size, scale, component addition, and subtraction. Alternatively, they can also alter design intent entirely within Fusion 360, Autodesk’s integrated CAD/CAM software.

Traditionally, woodworking plans might start as a 2D drawing on a physical piece of paper with a cut list outlining materials needed (in excess) to account for prototype fabrication. A woodworker might fabricate several physical iterations of one design to test various parameters, such as dimensions, topology, and wood finish.

Parametric design options in Fusion 360.

Using Fusion 360 to create a parametric model, woodworkers can reevaluate cut lists, eliminate unnecessary fabrication expenses, provide a visual representation to clients and suppliers, and check parameters all in one digital platform. Thus, as you can see with the credenza design example images throughout this article, parametric design features in Fusion 360 also make it easy to update dimensions for quick changes or to make special custom pieces.

Woodworking with Parametric Design

Woodworking has been a prominent and extensive fixture since the beginning of human history. Humans have crafted tools, furniture, transportation, and shelter out of wood for thousands of years. In recent history, woodworkers have seen the industry shift as demand increases. Handcrafted furniture is still a respected medium and one that will likely never fade. However, the furniture industry is now reliant on innovations that help meet demand.

Make sweeping changes to your furniture projects with parametric furniture design.

One advantage to parametric design in furniture fabrication is the ability to stress test products before they leave the 3D design and modeling software. This is a massive improvement over outdated methods of producing physical prototypes. Eliminating physical prototypes saves materials which, in turn, reduces associated costs. Digital environments create a forgiving atmosphere for woodworkers to create and alter as they go. What better place to foster further innovation than a 3D rendering environment?

Another advantage is flaw recognition. How many times have you fabricated a woodworking project prototype and realized a catastrophic flaw? In Fusion 360, woodworkers can analyze their design for flaws and other potential setbacks. A 3D template can provide detailed visualization of the product, which allows for new parameter and metric revisions.

The Future of Parametric Furniture Design Software

There are several ways user-friendly woodworking design software like Fusion 360 can enhance the furniture design process. From CAM/CAD integration to flaw recognition, Fusion 360 employs 3D modeling enhancements that can help drive the industry forward and provide software with a minimized learning curve for woodworkers, hobbyists, and engineers alike. Products are designed, tested, and produced quicker than ever before and match quality with quantity.

Fusion 360 is a robust and innovative 3D modeling software that incorporates all necessary parametric design functionality. There are also additional plugins to streamline design creation and eventual construction. The Fusion 360 YouTube channel provides extensive and helpful tutorials for newcomers or those needing a refresher course, including this workshop on parameters for furniture designers:

If you haven’t tried Fusion 360 out yet, now’s the perfect time to get started.

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