Wood floors aren't normally what you would think of as high tech. But a Dutch company called Bolefloor is using computers and CNC production to produce attractive and distinctive wood flooring that maximizes the amount of wood used. By scanning the wood and then using computer algorithms to calculate how best to cut the wood, unique floors with curving patterns can be produced that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and minimizes waste.
According to the company, the technology used in this process maximizes the yield of usable wood flooring by using "wood scanning systems, tailor-made CAD/CAM developments and innovative optimization algorithms for placement software developed by a Finnish engineering automation company and three software companies in cooperation with the Institute of Cybernetics at Tallinn University of Technology." In addition to determining how to fit together the pieces of wood, the software also takes into account imperfections in the wood near edges or ends, so that the floor will be more durable.
I'm not completely sold on the idea that this is leads to a significant savings of wood. But, for the wood that is used, this aproach should allow some further use of material from each log and the ability to use smaller logs, as well.
Each floor needs to be custom produced using this system, which limits its applicability for off the shelf projects. But, if the need for a repair arises, the fabrication of a replacement piece should be easy to accomplish, using the same file that was used to create the original piece to fabricate a copy.
If you are interested in maximizing production volume, this certainly wouldn't be the way to go. Efficiency is all about straight and regular. But if your definition of sustainability means 'taking care of what you have,' then creating something unique and beautiful that will encourage its owners to care for it and maintain it so it lasts, then this is a wonderful sustainable material.
More example images from the company site.
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