Centre of Applied Research Technology

From timber waste to designer pieces using DPRG

AUAS is developing advanced 3D design and production processes in Robot Studio

5 Feb 2020 09:30

Although wood waste is a complex residual stream, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) has identified opportunities for it to be turned into high-quality products at its Robotlab. Alongside project partners Heineken Interior Design, Amsterdamse Fijnhout and Nijboer Interieur, it has been developing a data-driven design process within the CIRCL-WOOD project that takes into account the specific characteristics of the material, such as colour and form, which has resulted in extraordinary designs and high-quality design products.

Waste wood consists of leftover pieces of wood, for example from a sawmill or from the demolition of a house. It accounts for a large residual stream, given that bulky domestic waste in Amsterdam alone already consists of approximately 40% wood. Mostly it is incinerated, as it is too complex to process. Not only do the traits of the material vary, such as their colour, shape and wood type, but it is also frequently contaminated by nails and other agents. This is a shame, given that fewer new materials would need to be used if it were reused.


Alongside the project partners, the AUAS Robotlab experts are investigating how this wood could be processed using digital design and production processes. Using the characteristics of the residual stream as a starting point, such as the colour, shape, grain direction and wood type, designers are able input their creative preferences. This leads to unique material effects, such as colour patterns, depending on the available materials. As such, the process may produce designs that may be so complex for them not to be feasible to be made by hand (in terms of time or cost).

The CIRCL-WOOD research takes place at the AUAS Robotlab. Robots inventory and sort the wood, yet are also able to work the timber, for example by milling it.


This development shows that waste wood can become a valuable residual flow, but can also provide many opportunities in terms of aesthetics and the efficient use of materials. In order to realise this in visual terms, the experts will be proposing three versions of the AUAS lounger chair which they created in a previous project, each created from the same residual timber supply but with a unique material layout and colour patterns. As a proof-of-concept, they will be concluding the project with a new chair.


At present, the team is primarily focusing on interior design elements for the Johan Cruyff ArenA. In the near future, they will be starting up a new project in which the digital production processes will be automated further, for example, in order to make new products or parts of buildings out of wood or timber sourced from renovations. They will also be examining opportunities for local digital production, meaning processing the waste wood into a new product on site. This would not only repurpose the residual flow, but also save a lot of time and money on transport and logistics.