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Loll designs production process: From a poly sheet to an outdoor chair

by Loll Designs |

You may know that we manufacture our products from sheets of recycled plastic – primarily from single-use milk jugs. But how does it go from a big sheet to a modern Adirondack chair? Read on, friends. In this post, we’re going to walk you through the production process – from plastic sheet to Loll chair. overview photo of Loll Designs production facility All Loll furniture starts as 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), one of the most commonly used plastics in the U.S. Our material is sourced primarily from single-use milk jugs. Our material is received into our facility in bunks, sorted by color. Each bunk includes around 20 to 25 4-foot by 8-foot sheets. We use three thicknesses of material: 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch, and 1 inch. There is a thin film applied to each sheet exterior that protects the material from being scratched during transit. This film is removed in the assembly process. Sheets of poly plastic lined up The process starts with design. Below is Jeff, one of our designers. He uses CAD technology to create renderings of our furniture. Loll furniture designer Jeff at computer Our manufacturing schedule adheres to lean manufacturing processes. This means all products are made to order – we do not keep an inventory. Orders are organized by like color, like sheet thickness and ship dates. Using the files Jeff designs, our CNC (computer numerical control) files processor Bill programs, or ‘nests’, individual pieces of furniture to get the best yield out of each sheet of recycled material. Once these files are programmed, they are sent to one of our three CNC machines. The CNC machines read the 3D design files Jeff and Bill create and cut the recycled plastic sheets into furniture components. Big sheet of red poly being transferred to CNC machine CNC machine cutting out Loll Designs furniture parts CNC machine cutting out furniture pieces for Loll Designs After the CNC machine cuts the furniture components, we strip the excess poly. (Think about making cookie cutouts – you always end up with extra dough after you’ve stamped the rolled-out dough. Same deal here.) Loll Designs employee stripping excess poly after CNC machine cut it Rather than sending this waste to a landfill, we ship it to a recycling plant in Minnesota that processes the scrap commodities to make agricultural drain piping. You can read all about our recycling process in our previous blog post. Loll recycles around 30,000 pounds of waste each month. Loll Designs employee puts poly scrap in gaylord The furniture components are then individually hand routed by our operators to create smooth edges that match the side the CNC machine cuts. (The machine only provides roundover on one side.) Loll Designs employee hand routing Production process 10 - hand routing 2 The furniture components are then sent to our inspection/insert area. overhead view of fastener stations at Loll Designs Each product part is first inspected by our production team and sorted based on orders. Because all of our fasteners are hidden, an aluminum insert – to which a stainless steel bolt will eventually be inserted to – is inserted in this part of the process. Loll Designs employee inserting fasteners into poly prior to assembly Loll Designs employee inserting fasteners into Loll Designs furniture After the product has been sorted and inserted, the furniture pieces are grouped into order-specific pallets and transferred to assembly. man pulling pieces of cut poly on a dolly pieces of poly plastic waiting to be assembled into Loll Designs furniture At assembly, our team thoroughly inspects each product again and packages it for shipping. The majority of our products ship flat-packed to save on costs and resources; however, we do pre-assemble some components. We strive for our packaging to be as minimal and efficient as possible, all while ensuring little or no damage during the transit process. Loll continuously works to improve our packaging materials to have the highest recycled content as possible. Loll Designs employee at assembly station Loll Designs employee holding two pieces of cut poly plastic at an assembly station Two guys at Loll Designs assembly station All Loll orders ship flat or knocked down. Shipments include either a Loll Tool or an Allen Wrench to aid the assembly process. Assembly instructions and videos may be viewed online prior to receiving. Loll Designs employee putting final sticker on fob before shipping Time to ship! Boxes are stacked on pallets and prepared for FedEx delivery. Loll Designs employee pushing boxes of Loll furniture to be shipped Loll Designs employee stacking furniture boxes to prep for shipping Loll Designs employees stack furniture boxes for shipping There you have it folks – from a piece of recycled plastic to a modern outdoor lounge chair. The final step looks a little something like this: Daylight savings 2 Stay tuned for a post to come about the milk jug recycling process – how the milk jug you bring out to the curb is transformed into a usable piece of plastic we make furniture from.