Bamboo Speakers and Hair Dryers Show Cool Material Potential

Samy Rio researches the use of bamboo in its natural tubular form in an industrial way with the goal of achieving the material quality and precision necessary to consider using bamboo more widely in product design. So far, he has developed speakers as well as hair dryers with this fast-growing and thus rapidly renewable material source.

Rio explains that his goal is not to necessary propose mass production of products with bamboo, but rather to augment its technical properties with industrial tools, thus allowing people to be able to produce more durable products and objects with it. Due to its natural properties and extensively availability, Rio believes that with technical enhancements, bamboo could in the future be considered a genuine, sustainable substitute for materials such as plastics or metals, which of course require heavy processing modes.

To start he process, Rio has designed an industrial machine from existing tools: a CNC million machine mounted upon an industrial lathe in order to facilitate the precision transformation of the material. The machine is able to grind the bamboo to create a perfectly round tube with a maximum diameter of 1 m (depending upon the type of bamboo species).  The machine is then used to prepare the bamboo tubes for the transformation into objects: cutting, engraving, assembly, material deposition, create screws on the tube, finish etc. You can watch a video of how the machine works here, and read on below about several of Rio’s enhanced bamboo product designs including Bluetooth speakers and a hair dryers.

The design of each object is directly linked to the tubular structure. Once the  irregularities of the outside shape are eliminated through a calibration, the already smooth interior receives the electrical and electronic components, attached to elastomer supports which adopt the form of the tube and create a waterproof seal.

Rio previously undertook research through cut-outs which allow him to assemble or articulate the different sections. From this collection of shapes, the designer demonstrates his method’s potential for assembly via two hairdryers. One with a fixed handle, the other with a foldable handle, which activates the device when the handle is unfolded. Bamboo here serves as a particularly efficient alternative to plastic thanks to its strength and high heat resistance.

The speakers demonstrate other features: the control icons are engraved directly onto the outside of the bamboo and through a capacitive switch attached inside, the tube hence functions like a touch screen made from bamboo.The body of the speaker is made of two pieces of bamboo glued together and then dipped into coloured rubber. Multiple speakers can be synchronized together to operate as a mobile sound system.