Indoor sound dampening has never looked so good — or been more sustainable.
How do you bring the outside inside? Interior experience company, Willo, might be onto something. We sat down with them to talk about how they’re reinventing indoor acoustic sound dampening with custom 3D-printed trees made from Xtellar’s 100% recycled Enviro PETG filament.
Tell us about Willo; why was it started?
We started Willo to address the need for more sustainable commercial furniture offerings, beginning with acoustic dampening solutions. Most furniture used in commercial spaces is made of non-recyclable or non-renewable materials. It’s then shipped across the ocean, which results in pollution regardless of the quality of the products. This kind of manufacturing leaves the wrong kind of impact. With Willo, we use only recycled or renewable materials made in the US, and we employ production processes that involve little to no waste.
Interesting! So why start with acoustic sound dampening?
We saw sound dampening as a great place to start because there’s so much room for improvement. Most current offerings are simply solid-colored flat panels. And options with any measure of aesthetic appeal are far too expensive to be widely accessible. We saw an opportunity to create a more esthetic, interactive yet approachable solution that truly enhanced a space beyond just the acoustics.
Why did you choose to manufacture using 3D printing?
3D printing enables us to offer practically limitless design options to our clients, thus complementing the style of any space. We can print in close proximity to our customers because the process doesn’t require any unique tooling. 3D printing also drastically reduces waste because products can be made on-demand, with no need for excess inventory. Finally, it allows us to close the recycling loop by using post-consumer waste — eventually even our own products will be recycled to make new ones.
What were some of the challenges around 3D printing?
Early on we learned that as stellar as it sounds, 3D printing isn’t a magic bullet. Like any production process, it has its own set of limitations and constraints. Because we print such large parts, we struggled to optimize our production output. It wasn’t until we took advantage of a multi-processes system that we found the right balance. For example, we use a very large printer and nozzle to print the main sections of the tree, and a bunch of much smaller, less expensive machines for elements like the branch connectors.
Another big challenge was identifying the right materials. It wasn’t enough to use something that was recycled — we also needed access to beautiful colors and textures to ensure our products enhance the beauty of the spaces they occupy. For us, Xtellar’s Enviro PETG was that answer — a 100% recycled filament that helps keep plastic out of landfills.
What benefits does Enviro PETG offer for Willo products?
In addition to being made from post consumer waste, held to high production standards, and coming in a variety colors, we love that it’s made in the US by an awesome team. And because it’s PETG, it’s inherently quick and easy to print, durable, and maintains its integrity even in direct sunlight.
What other products is Willo working on?
Beyond our acoustic dampening tree system, we’re aiming to enhance public spaces with other functional furniture systems down the road. While I can’t say just yet, there’s much to come!