How It’s Made: Plastic Furniture

iconic chairs

Injection moulding is the technique used to make modern plastic furniture. And before the process can take place designers have to create the concept of the furniture. To do this, the first step is to come up with a drawing.

This describes not only the shape, but also the style, the structure, and the size of the product. It also includes whatever other details the designer wants to incorporate. These days to carry out this design and development of 3D drawing the designer uses a computer.

The next step is the making of a hardware mould. This needs to go through a set of added processes.

These include a drawing review and modeling. The preparation of the material and the mould base processed. Other techniques employed include mould core, electrode and parts processing. Finally the work in progress undergoes an  inspection. Assembly, trial mould, and production complete the process. The product in now ready.


To manufacture plastic furniture requires injection moulding. And injection moulding produces the parts by injecting molten material into a mould.

The process of injection moulding uses a special machine. This has three parts: an injection unit, a mould and a clamp. But the designers needs to predetermine everything before the manufacture begins. The stage includes settling on the material used. It also sets out the shape and any features to need to included. These aspects define the versatility of injection moulding.

The third step involves testing the mould. And this needs to prove whether the mould qualifies and if the product will come out as planned.

famous chair brandsMaterials

All plastics are polymers. The root comes from the Greek polus, meaning many. The mer is from the Greek meros, meaning parts. Polymer describes a material made up of many parts. Typical long-chain polymer is a monomer, after mono the Greek word for one.

Plastics that have a two-dimensional molecular structure are thermoplastics. Heat can soften these. They also are  recyclable as a result. Two of the thermoplastics common in furniture are polypropylene and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The latter is often used to make panel edging and foils.

Plastics with three-dimensional internal structures, are themosets. Heat does not soften these after their formation.

This category of polymers plays a supportive role in furniture making. Polyurethane in adhesives and upholstery foam. Phenolics in adhesives. Polyester is often used for finishes, and in fabrics. Polymers can also work with each other or with other things like glass fibre. The five varieties of general plastics used for making plastic furniture are:

  • PE-polyethylene
  • PP-polypropylene
  • PVC-polyviny
  • PS-polystyrene
  • Acrylonitrile ABS.

Engineering plastics tend to be those plastics that can withstand defined external forces. They also have good mechanical properties. Also, they can resist high and low temperatures. Engineering plastics have stable dimensions.

Early Plastic Furniture

The seeds of plastic furniture were sown after World War Two. In 1946, the Canadian National Research Council (NRC) produced the first moulded-plastic furniture prototype from glass-fibre-reinforced cotton and synthetic resin adhesives. The designers were James Donahue and Douglas Simpson. Three years later the American designer Charles Eames revealed his iconic designs to the world.

Environmental Reputation 

modern plastic dining chairsPlastics have a bad reputation. This is especially in an age of environmental concerns. But is plastic furniture always bad? Plastic in general has done much harm. But plastic furniture can be more sustainable than you may think.

Plastic furniture is reusable. It is made to last. And much plastic furniture encourages reuse. Indeed, plastic furniture often has a better carbon footprint than wood furniture.
Plastic is considered more sustainable than common furniture materials in several ways.
For example:

  • Plastic production requires less energy.
  • It and leads to less carbon emissions than producing materials like metal.
  • Plastic is lighter than wood and metal. This leads to a lower carbon footprint when transported and delivered.
  • Plastic furniture lasts a long time.
  • Plastic furniture encourages recycling, reuse and repurposing.

Overreliance on wood contributes to deforestation. It also increases the carbon content in the atmosphere. While many plastics can be recycled 2–3 times before they become obsolete.

Plastic Furniture Popular Items

You are welcome to browse our complete range of furniture. But there are many examples of the sustainable plastic furniture on offer. These include the Fritz Hansen N02 Recycle Stackable Chair. This is a multi-use chair. It is made from upcycled plastic household waste. The crease in the chair’s back was inspired by a piece of paper folded on the designer’s studio table. It offers more support for your upper and lower back.

Scandinavian nature inspired the seven colour options. The Magis Raviolo Armchair is a product of a constant search. This Ron Arad carries out for his sculptural and functional shapes. He is always looking for ways of producing large-scale furniture ranges. Leading-edge technology, allows the creation of the Raviolo armchair from a single strip of moulded polyethylene. The design is available in a wide range of colours. It looks at ease in any environment indoors or outdoors.

plastic chair manufacturing processThere is one piece of furniture that shows the huge range of possibilities offered by plastic furniture. It is the Magis Proust Lounge Chair.

Designed by Alessandro Mendini in 2011. He based the latest design on his original 1978 iconic concept ”Poltrona di Proust”. The colourful baroque design utilised the “pointillism” technique. This is where polychromatic points are hand painted on the whole armchair.

Since its creation, the arm chair has taken many different dimensions and colours. It has come with a variety of materials, including bronze and ceramics.

The version we stock uses clever technology. This creates a functional, contemporary  version of this design classic. It comes in rotational–moulded polythene. It is weatherproof.  And suitable for use outdoors use, where it makes a fantastic and memorable statement.


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