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Design Materials Trends

The Useful Properties Of Epoxy Resin

The best thing about working with epoxy resin is that it can be used with just about anything. The kinds of products people create with this substance are skies the limit; from mold making to jewelry and even cheese boards! What is it about epoxy-resin that makes it so popular and fun to work with?

We’re going to explore the unique properties of epoxy resin, how its used, and most importantly how it’s applied to furniture making.

What is Epoxy Resin?

This material is a thermoset plastic (polymer) that cures when mixed with another catalyzing agent (or hardener). The most common epoxy resin is produced from the reaction of two substances called bisphenol-A and epichlorohydrin. It’s chemistry and ability to polymerize with other catalyzing agents has made its application quite broad. Epoxy resin also serves as a base material for many applications such as paint, coatings, adhesives, and even industrial tooling. According to 3dChem, “commercially available variations to use with epoxy allow cure polymers to be produced with a very broad range of properties.” To sum up it all up, epoxy-resin is a very viscous substance that hardens over a period of time when mixed and exposed to other materials.

What makes this substance so useful throughout all applications is that it’s known for having adhesive qualities, the ability to be heat and chemical resistant; and have good mechanical and electrical properties. This makes it quite useful in the production of industrial-grade materials and tools like laminates, molds, fixtures; or electrical systems like motors, generators, and transformers.

While there are a variety of reasons why epoxy resin remains incredibly useful throughout every industry, one of its most popular commercial uses is in furniture making.

Filling In knots and holes with epoxy resin.

Epoxy Resin in Furniture

While it’s known that utilizing resin with furniture can also be handy for repairs (due to its adhesive qualities and being waterproof). It is also used for artistic purposes and like other industries that have various commercial uses for epoxy resin, furniture making has creatively applied it to often fantastic results, therefore making resin furniture a style of its own. Simple pieces like credenzas, benches, and shelving units have benefited from epoxy resin because it heightens the aesthetic with a touch of class.

The Art of Resin Tables

How designers incorporate resin into their furniture is also an art form of its own. The shapes and variety of materials to use with epoxy resin are entirely up to the designer, but it’s the production process that makes this kind of furniture design incredibly unique. Quite arguably, the most sought-after material with resin is wood. When it comes to applying resin in wood furniture, one of the many shapes designers will use is live edge (slabs of wood that retain the natural appearance). There are no changes to the slabs, but areas like knots and holes are filled with resin to smoothen out the surfaces. The end result to every furniture piece that uses live edge are striking since the shapes are never the same size and form; every piece ends up looking completely different than the last.

Pouring epoxy resin into river table.

Other kinds of wooden furniture that use resin, like river tables greatly benefit from live edge wood because of the unpredictable nature of the substance. The fact that epoxy resin is so viscous allows it to ebb and flow (before hardening) or change gradation in color when using resin dyes; certain sections of the table may appear murkier than others, resulting in a more water-like effect to the design.

What makes epoxy-resin very popular is its ability to be applied to just about anything. Whether it be for repairing purposes, engineering, or even making art; there is no doubt that it is highly useful for commercial applications, especially when it comes to furniture.

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Design Materials Trends

The Importance of Divider Panels in the Age of a Pandemic

How Companies Are Adapting To The Safety Needs of a Pandemic

The rise in COVID-19 cases have increased the past month across the United States and design companies have been finding new solutions to protect workers in every industry. From healthcare environments to retail, the demand for protection is high as businesses, both large and small, prepare to send their employees safely back to work.

However, certain industries are at higher risk than others. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), people working in healthcare environments continue to remain at “critical levels of risk” as they are continually exposed to the virus on a daily basis. So what solutions are being used to protect those working out in the field? One solution that meets coronavirus protection protocols is the implementation of physical barriers (or panels) and wall partitions.

The Importance Of Divider Panels And Its Increasing Demand

In the pre-pandemic world, the modern office space was known for shared workstations and collaborative areas, promoting and engaging creativity among employees. However, times have certainly changed as social distancing protocols have remained in place these past few months. Also, given the state of the economy, the pressure to send workers back into offices has never been higher. Aside from most businesses that continue to keep employees working from home, or those who­­­ slowly return to offices with fewer people; how can we all come back to an open office space without the risk of getting infected?

While not visually pleasing in most spaces, divider panels have been tested and proven to be effective against coronavirus. The “sneeze guard” has become the norm in groceries, convenience stores and large retail centers like Target and Walmart. They are effective in deflecting any micro-particles through coughs and sneezes which may be exhibited through verbal communication. The panels are primarily easy to install and maintain; as well as being cost effective for large scale productions. The material commonly used for these panels is plexi-glass acrylic sheets. However, there are certain industries that may require a higher density/stronger material; for greater strength, the panels can also be made from impact-modified acrylic, polycarbonate, and PETG sheets.

All Hands On Deck: Providing Protection to Those in the Community

Every helping hand matters as more companies are adapting to meet the safety needs in this age of a pandemic. The world economy is in freefall and businesses are looking to find unique ways to stay afloat and survive during these difficult times. This effects all industries across the nation including those operating on a smaller scale. Local shop owners strive to keep their employees working and have looked to new business opportunities and helping those that need protection against coronavirus. Companies like Versare Solutions initially known for designing room dividers and cubicle stations have now shifted their mission objective to making Plexiglass divider screens for cashiers, checkouts and reception areas. Even a Kayaking company in Minneapolis has focused on face shields after requests from friends and health practioners.

Here at dTank, our design firm which has solely focused on making custom furniture for the past 22 years, has decided to take action and do our part in the community and across the country, by providing protective divider panel solutions for workspaces in every industry.

The idea of creating a protective barrier between you and your fellow coworker may be a new concept that may take time getting used to, but given these circumstances, it is important to note that the safety of our community is paramount. Which is why the implementation of divider panels, hence “sneeze guards” are not only effective solutions to protecting employee’s working in the field, but are also a new business venture for companies willing to help save lives and a way to survive in this struggling economy.

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Client Story Design Materials

2020 Design Trends: The Next-Generation Of Open Office spaces By dtank

Once again design teams are back to the drawing board for 2020, crafting the future of office spaces to accommodate new cultural shifts in society. What are the challenges and how are companies dealing with them today? As a leader in custom-built furniture catering to designers globally, the dTank team feels the pulse about what key challenges designers are facing on a daily basis and shares what concepts, products and solutions can best prepare the changing workforce for success and happiness now and in the future.

Workplace environments have shifted over time, evolving from efficiency to experiences. During the last decade the trend for open office spaces has been in full swing with designers anticipating things like densification – more employees per square foot – and the ever-evolving mobile work styles. Newer technologies have paved the way for less equipment and space. However, open office design concepts have caused controversy, leaving designers aware that it isn’t really about “one size fits all.”

Initially, the open space concept was thought to encourage team collaboration, in addition to the cold, hard fact that a company could save money by squeezing more employees into less space via bench seating, etc. However, the open space office design concept has caused controversy and speculation. With increased competitiveness and pressures at work, many employees working in open office spaces are distracted by co-workers. Individuals have different personalities and work styles, and some people simply cannot focus in a crowded open space environment.

In fact, a Harvard study of two Fortune 500 companies found that people in open-offices spent 72 percent less time interacting face-to-face—but instant messaging increased by 67 percent and email increased 56 percent. This shift might prove that employees want privacy spaces in which to do their work.

As usual humans have found ways of adapting to their individual spaces to avoid distractions and work privately by wearing earbuds, staring at their screens, or simply heading to Starbucks.

This doesn’t mean the end of the open office space. Millenials and younger generations are actually quite accustomed to open-space architectural designs both at home, and even at some high schools that now boast modular furniture, charging stations, big-screen smart TV’s, custom bookshelves, ping pong and foosball tables.

Other factors compound the latest design processes. The global workforce is more conscious than ever before of things like environmental sustainability, ergonomics for comfort and health, non-toxic materials composition and even issues that can affect our psychological well-being. This affects everything from designing purposeful workspaces made from sustainable non-toxic, eco-friendly materials and fabrics, to a variety of seating options that support physical comfort and ergonomic support to textures and colors that support well-being and emotions.

The key is, what will we design and built to meet all of these challenges for a more productive, healthier and successful global workforce? These are the questions and challenges that the dTank designers ponder daily, coming up with solutions that its clients are loving.

dTank’s team believes that it is not just about office enclosures or lack of them when it comes to open office spaces, but rather about thinking outside the box and creating a total work environment that is adjustable, solves noise issues, addresses cultural shifts in society and allows for access to the resources needed for people to do their jobs and be more productive.

The company looks to the total picture for healthier and diverse workspaces including everything from purposeful workspaces with more natural light and acoustical integrity, to a variety of seating options that support physical well-being, to materials, fabric and art in colors that support sustainability as well as emotions.

Design Trends 2020

dTank has addressed these issues for new custom furniture for design teams like Smith Group JJR who did these workstations for the Baker Ave Asset Management office in San Francisco, CA.

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Workstations offer privacy to employees (and customers) via Bend Plywood with High Pressure Laminate Panels. High Pressure Laminate with Plywood Work Surface, Resin Panels, Dry Erase and Forbo Tackable Material, Powder Coated Steel Storage. dTank continues to revolutionize the industry by creating sophisticated work environments that incorporate the latest ergonomic features and technology solutions.

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The dTank furniture pieces feature White Laminate Surfaces, Raw Cold Rolled Steel with Matte Clear Powder Coat, Wool Felt Tack Panel, Spalted Maple Laminate, White Dry Erase Powder Coat Panels, Laminate Overhead Storage

Most commercial designers know that it’s essential to look at every company, their office and employees holistically. How many employees are there? What are the roles and personality types of employees who sit in open spaces? Are there teams or individuals working collaboratively? Do some employees (e.g. sales dept.) require more telephone time than others? Do people work independently, or do they require team and or client meetings? As a company grows in a dynamic environment, the needs of its employees will always be changing, so it’s natural that the physical environments often need to be updated.

If the goal in 2020 is to create an engaging office experience and overall wellbeing amongst workers, this may also mean introducing more activity-based social spaces where workers can go – small collaboration/meeting spaces, focus rooms, rejuvenation areas, work cafes and/or kitchens, living hubs, gyms, game rooms, privacy booths, areas for yoga or meditation and even outdoor nature-workspaces. Think resi-mercial designs – where office spaces become more like a home away from home for increased productivity, privacy and overall well-being.

Contact us today to let us help you with your 2020 planning!

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Design Materials Tips & Tricks Trends

Hot v. Cold Rolled Steel: Do You Know the Difference?

HOT V COLD ROLLED STEEL

Hot Rolled Steel (LEFT) and Cold Rolled Steel (RIGHT)

There is often a misconception regarding hot versus cold rolled steel and when it comes to designing with steel, form must meet function. To create quality, high-end furniture we make sure the proper materials are applied to every piece and hope to educate you through our experience in the fabrication process.

HOT ROLLED STEEL

Hot rolling is a mill process which involves heating the metal to above 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing it to be easily shaped and formed. After, the steel is cooled causing it to shrink or change in size or shape giving you less control over the final product. This is partly why hot rolled steel is typically cheaper than cold rolled. Hot rolled steel is often used when precise shapes are not required. Our Swag Room shelving units for Legendary Entertainment used hot rolled steel which you can see from the matte finish and textured appearance.

HOT V COLD ROLLED STEEL

Legendary Entertainment ‘Swag Room’ Custom Hot Rolled Steel Shelving Units

3 WAYS TO IDENTIFY HOT ROLLED STEEL:

  1. Scaly finish
  2. Rounded edges on barstock
  3. A non-oily surface

TYPICAL FURNITURE APPLICATIONS:

Wall panels, shelving units, table tops, table legs, and much more.

View hot rolled steel projects here.

COLD ROLLED STEEL

Cold rolled steel process begins the same as hot rolled but instead, it is cooled at room temperature, then followed by an annealing or tempers rolling. The additional processing allows for a range in finishes, and closer precision in finished sizes.Process. Temperatures are close to room temperature during the cold rolled process and increase the strength of the finished product by as much as 20 percent. Often times, the term cold rolled is used to describe all forms of steel, but this is incorrect. For Ground Zero’s workstations, we required specific sizes and pieces for the station to have the highest quality and durability. You can see we used cold rolled steel by the shiny finish and the consistency in texture.

HOT V COLD ROLLED STEEL

Custom Cold Rolled Steel Workstations by dTank

3 WAYS TO IDENTIFY COLD ROLLED STEEL:

  1. Oily or greasy finish
  2. Very smooth surface
  3. Very sharp edges on bar stock.

TYPICAL FURNITURE APPLICATIONS:

Storage units, table tops, legs, shelves, chairs, and more.

View cold rolled steel projects here.

Looking for custom steel furniture? Contact us here.

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Design Materials Tips & Tricks Trends

Laminate: The Stone Alternative

The design process is something dTank is all too familiar with. We want to make your material selection process as easy and informed as possible. We have teamed up with Panolam to show you some great options for laminate – stone alternative – finishes. Certainly when it comes to a kitchen, we suggest leaving the granite, marble, quartz, or travertine to its job. But for more commercial spaces, we think its a great way to cut down costs and achieve a modern, contemporary style for a creative workspace, retail stores, medical clinics, and even cafes. These environments ultimately achieve the stylistic benefits of stone with all the practicality of laminate.

laminate

Laminate is a unique material that is durable, affordable and incredibly customizable. It is constructed by pressing together layers of heavy duty paper with a compound known as melamine, which hardens into a resin. This creates a solid veneer, which can then be covered in a thin decorative layer.

Here are some example spaces using Panolam’s visualizer app.

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Above, we alternated subtle stone patterns with wood grain laminates for a tasteful design. Designers tend to think that laminate sheets can be restrictive to design because of their kraft paper. Kraft paper is the core layer of a high pressure laminate that controls the product’s thickness, its texture and look is similar to cardboard. Luckily, Pionite® ThruColor™ high pressure laminate may be used in any high-end furniture and casework application where a solid color edge is desired. This creates a seamless finish to your design and contributes greatly to the aesthetics of the final product. Pionite’s manufacturing process provides a second generation color-through laminate that is more flexible and much less likely to chip than other color-through laminates.

Here is an example of the difference between what a ThruColor™ laminate would look like compared to a standard laminate.

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Panolam also offers a variety of finishes. If you are trying to achieve the sheen of real granite or marble, Panolam has a high gloss finish that will give you the reflective quality often seen on natural polished stone. The finishes range from velvet and soft leather to crystal and aged bark. For this application, high gloss would likely be your best option. Below you can see the difference between the gloss finish (left) and textured suede finish (right). The pattern is ‘Man on the Moon’, a powerful granite featuring an opalescent pearl with a slight patina. As you can see below, the high gloss intensifies the color and creates a smooth reflective surface. The suede finish adds texture but dulls the overall color of the pattern. Some may prefer this for a more subtle design.

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By the end of this process you can have a high-end fabricated furniture piece that resembles stone for nearly half the price but with all the practicality. Here are some examples of designs we have produced for our clients. These designs are able to be fabricated using stone or laminate.

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Materials Tips & Tricks

The Difference Between Millwork and Custom Furniture

Architects, designers, and end users may struggle finding the right fit for their projects interiors. In an effort to clarify which service works best for your project, we have laid out the differences between working with a millworker and a custom furniture manufacturer. Although they perform many parallel functions, there are many differences between the two disciplines.

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TSArchitects workstations

Custom furniture and millwork have one thing in common; they are completely custom and often project based. Their fabrication and installation depend on the space provided by the client and is fabricated accordingly. Their main distinction is that millwork or cabinetry work is designed to be built into position one time, such as kitchens, built-ins, etc. They will install the piece on-site and once in place, that’s it. Furniture on the other hand, needs to be built to survive constant repositioning, changing hands, being passed along from one person to the next for years on end, without working its way apart.

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Team One Workstations

Throughout our 20+ years of experience in the furniture industry and working alongside millworkers, we have noticed that there is a foundational difference in the construction and fabrication of millwork and furniture. For most cabinetry, screw together construction will do the job. Custom furniture demands a more durable, permanent and elegant solution. Dovetails, custom fasteners, draw bolts, pinned mortise and tenon, among other techniques, are the secrets to building strong, durable pieces that will stand years of use and ensure a long life-span.

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Legendary Entertainment Swagroom

The quality of furniture is heavily dependent upon good design. Where a millworker could work with 1/16 inch error and draw it together with a screw or brad, a furniture designer would consider this a huge error. A millworker might also let a small cabinet door blemish go, however on a table top where people will be looking at it from different angles and different light, a blemish could be a glaring error. In furniture design, every joint, edge, and surface is taken into consideration. People will be touching and interacting with your work in public view every day. Where time was cost, now taking time to make things right is more important.

Below is an infographic representing foundational differences between millwork and custom furniture design.

The Difference Between Millwork and Custom Furniture  m
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Coart Design Materials Tips & Tricks

Acoustics 101

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Materials Trends

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

New style reports from 2018 show that brass furniture has made a comeback taking inspirations from art deco, streamline, and some more contemporary styles. You might have seen brass popping up in homes and restaurants and as we see resi-mercial trends coming into the workplace, it comes as no surprise that home decor has spearheaded the brass trend. You can find it anywhere from light fixtures to cabinet hardware. Brass finishes will make a subtle and understated impression on your interior. Much more refined and understated than its use in the Victorian era, contemporary brass parts bring a hint of luxury and sophistication. Most importantly, brass is highly durable and makes for a long lasting final product.

Brass interior accents

FAQ:

WHAT IS BRASS?

Solid brass is an alloy metal made from copper and zinc. There are many manufacturing methods used to create the hardware, including wrought, forged, cast and die-cut processes.

QUALITY?

Strong – Solid brass is a strong and durable metal. The combination of zinc and copper contribute to the strength of the material.
Long-lasting – Unlike aluminum and plated steel, a solid brass fixture won’t need to be replaced because of rust or corrosion. While it can cost more in an initial investment, you tend to save money in the long run since they won’t have to keep replacing the unit.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLID AND PLATED?

Since solid brass is so desirable, hardware is often treated to look like the material. Yet, it won’t give you the same quality. Plated items are often made from steel or pure zinc, which are thin and will break down over time. Ask your builder to be sure of the metal used. However, when you’re buying your own products, look for a clearly identified solid brass marking. (Kingston Brass)

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO USING BRASS IN FURNITURE?

WIDE VERSATILITY

When you’re working with a project that has very strict specifications, brass delivers. If you need to have fittings exposed, brass is finished in a variety of different ways, whether lacquered, polished, plated in chrome or given a nickel or antique finish. It can be used for accents to furniture, or entire structural elements like piping that you might want to keep open to the eye as a design element.

DURABILITY

Because of its many other working properties, brass is a metal that is highly durable. We all know hospitality environments and workspaces can take harsh conditions, brass is the the most durable solution with minimal to no servicing required.

RESISTANCE TO CORROSION

Other metals can have serious corrosion issues, but brass is second to none in terms of corrosion resistance. Corrosion and rust can cause serious wear and tear on metal, so a corrosion-free metal is the best option in these situations. Even the worst corrosive water won’t cause corrosion in brass.

TOLERANCE OF HIGH TEMPERATURES

Brass is very ductile in high temperatures, and can withstand much higher temperatures than other options, to the point of being among the only surviving items in a serious fire.

VERY MALLEABLE

It also molds better than most materials on the market. Even though the metal is malleable, it still retains serious durability and dependability. (Red Hed)

DTANK DESIGNS

Brass Toe Kick Reception Desk
Brass cabinetry and hardware in conference room
Brass ancillary accents
Brass hardware in kitchen designs
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Design Materials Tips & Tricks Trends

Stay Powered Up!

Technology is everywhere, entwined in almost every part of our lives, including the workspace. In almost all modern spaces we come across today being technologically connected is very important and we take this into account as we provide custom furniture solutions for our client’s spaces.

A popular option in providing direct connectivity is Byrne Electrical’s In Surface solutions that include USB (Salt) or power plugs (Pepper) and are made to directly mount into flat surfaces. That’s right – no more crawling under your desks and looking behind cabinets for an outlet. This option is not only very accessible but because it is integrated within a surface, it provides a sleeker look while making it a concealable solution for desks, conference tables and even counter tops. These products come in a circle or square shape and a variety of colors to either blend in or stand out. Could charging your devices get any more convenient?

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Design Materials Tips & Tricks Trends

A New Take on Shipping Containers

RECYCLE

There are nearly 30 million shipping containers in use in the world today. Over a million of them are replaced each year by the shipping industry. A standard 20 foot unit contains about 5000 pounds of rust-proof Corten steel, so it’s not going to just disintegrate, even after spending years exposed to the elements.

Around the time that Clive Wilkinson & Associates created their award-winning office space for Pallotta Teamworks, I became fascinated with the possible uses of recycled shipping containers. Here was an opportunity to really demonstrate recycling and sustainability by giving new life these retired containers in new applications.

Shipping containers
Shipping containers

Pre re-purposed Shipping Containers for dTank Showroom

RE-USE

Our plan is to demonstrate some potential uses for these containers as retail spaces, offices, and more. We chose three 20 foot standard containers and had one side cut out to allow for better viewing of our experimental spaces.

Recycled shipping containers are nearly indestructible. Their Corten steel construction makes them virtually rustproof and their standardized design makes them easy to combine in many ways. Their strength makes them ideal for stacking. They can be cut, sliced, painted, insulated, and electrified!

Shipping containers
Shipping containers

dTank Showroom Shipping Containers

RE-PURPOSE

Our experimental project with our showroom inspired many other designs using shipping containers. This project for Smashing Boxes headquarters was built from the ground up inside their space based on the idea of utilizing a container as a space for meeting, working, or relaxing. This structure was built with full electrical access, a conference table, operating doors that open and close. The structure is even portable! The company has recently moved their headquarters and kept their custom fabricated shipping container.

Shipping containers
Shipping containers

dTank Custom Shipping Container fabricated for Smashing Boxes Inc.

CONCEPTS:

Shipping containers

People’s Architecture Office builds temporary Pavillion

Shipping containers

Potash Architects proposes angled shipping container staircase

Shipping containers

CRG Architects Skyscraper Concept from Shipping Containers