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Bernhardt Design Selects GE Composite Materials for Orbit Chair

06 May 2005

Bernhardt Design, a US innovator in residential and business furniture design, has selected a long glass fibre composite as an alternative to its current material of ash and zebrawood veneers for it's Orbit stacking chair.

Bernhardt Design wanted to find a material that would simplify manufacturing and reduce costs so that the company could offer its chair design at a lower price, and open up opportunities in new market segments.

The chair, designed by Ross Lovegrove, currently entails a complex and expensive manufacturing process that requires the three-step-processing of wood veneers that are only available in Sweden.

The company have chosen GE Advanced Materials , Plastics' new LNP Verton PCA-F-7004 EM compound as the solution, which is a new long glass-fibre polycarbonate/ acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (PC/ABS) composite that GE claim offers advantages over typical glass-filled engineering resins.

GE suggested that, compared to short glass-fibre products, the new compound delivers superior tensile strength and stiffness at low glass loadings, yielding a resin-rich surface finish that can be painted without priming. The high-flow PC/ABS material also provides easy moulding – making it a candidate for gas-assist injection-moulded parts and helping to deliver enhanced long-term properties such as creep resistance.

Bernhardt Design also selected LNP Verton PCA-F-7004 EM compound to meet the stringent, structural requirements of the Orbit chair, with the GE compound also passing twice the normal load requirement of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Associate (BIFMA) back test, with no sign of fatigue or failure, according to GE.

Zack Lyon, project engineer, Bernhardt Design, says ""Thanks to the exceptional properties of the LNP Verton PCA compound, we are able to offer a designer piece that's economical and can appeal to a broader range of furniture segments, such as educational, stadium, and cafeteria-style seating. By delivering premium performance with outstanding quality and appearance at a cost-effective price, this product is helping our company expand beyond our core markets.""

David Cooper, LNP Verton product manager, GE Advanced Materials, Plastics, states, ""Today's consumers expect outstanding product design. By replacing traditional materials such as costly woods with innovative new materials like LNP Verton PCA-F-7004 EM compound, manufacturers may, as in this case, be able to produce upscale designer goods that are also affordable. We are proud to offer manufacturers like Bernhardt Design new material options that can help expand their businesses and reinforce the image of superior quality.""

""The gas-assist molding process used on this chair is very unique given the size and length of the gas section,"" says Brian Sumpter, business development director, Mack Molding Company. ""Successfully molding this chair and managing the aesthetics, function, and cost expectations required Bernhardt Design, GE Advanced Materials, and Mack Molding to all work in unison. The end result is a true testimonial to what happens when the development chain works together.""