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Furniture Oct 12, 2021

FormFunc: A Materials Change Prompts A Design Change

In the past, it has been the industry standard to use materials and chemicals that we now know hurt the environment. Many harmful chemicals used in the industry come from Red List materials. As we have learned more about the long-term effects of Red List materials, the importance of removing them from products has become clear.

As manufacturers, we have the power to create products without Red List materials. Plus, when companies are transparent about their material usage, consumers can make informed decisions about the products they buy.

Rethink Design with Humanscale

Humanscale’s commitment to removing Red List materials from their ergonomic office products has caused them rethink product designs. During the rethinking process, Humanscale has focused on keeping the function, durability, and aesthetic of products. They redesigned their monitor arms in order to remove dangerous materials. The original design of the M8 monitor arms used Chrome 6 plated steel in the “friction hubs” that allowed the monitor arm to be adjusted to the weight of the monitor it supported.

Chrome plating is a common finish for metals because of its sleek shiny aesthetic, durability, and low cost. Chrome 6 is a known toxin because it poses a health risk during the plating process, in which it can work its way into the surrounding environment. The chemicals released during the production process can get into drinking water, which directly affects the lives of people who work with the materials as well as those who live near production facilities.

Humanscale’s first idea was to replace the Chrome 6 with the much more expensive Chrome 3. Unfortunately, they struggled to find a reliable vendor who could provide the material at an acceptable price.

A New Way

They then decided to try a different approach. Humanscale created a powder-coated version of the disks, similar to what is used on their QuickStand Eco. Alas, the powder-coated version did not meet design requirements, but Humanscale did not let this setback stop them.

Rather than changing the material, Humanscale finally decided to change the design. They have still kept the hubs as a design element, but this time in high-gloss Red List-free plastic.

Removing Chrome 6 and other Red List materials from products helps save the people who work in and live near production facilities as well as the environment. Buying sustainable office products allows consumers to do their part in keeping humans and the environment healthy.

Humanscale’s commitment to using healthy materials in their products has led to numerous innovative developments.

Read more about the commitment to material transparency here: https://www.humanscale.com/about/csr/health-product-declarations.cfm or contact Formfunc Studio for more info on the Humanscale product offering available in South Africa (info@formfunc.co.za)

Article – courtesy Humanscale®

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