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A new material that made a “table without legs” a reality at Starbucks

News International-French

6 May 2019

Tables have legs. As to overturn such common sense, a Starbucks store in downtown Vancouver, Canada, introduced a “legless table”. The table was designed by world-class architect Kengo Kuma.

Komatsu Matere’s thermoplastic carbon fibre composite material Cabkoma gave life to Mr. Kuma’s innovative ideas.

Cabkoma is made by impregnating carbon fibre with a thermoplastic epoxy resin. Its specific gravity is one-quarter that of iron, and its tensile strength is ten times that of iron. The Starbucks store in Vancouver used the Cabkoma Strand Rod that made the material wire-like. The table with no legs was realized by supporting the top of the table with multiple Cabkoma strand rods stretched to connect the store's ceiling and floor.

The store is an advanced example of using the Cabkoma Strand Rod as “furniture”, but it is not the only use. One of the composite material’s typical applications is the earthquake-proof reinforcement of buildings and structures. In addition to high strength and flexibility as compared to steel wire, it is extremely lightweight and shows almost no dimensional change due to heat, so the construction efficiency and maintainability of earthquake-proof reinforcement work can be greatly improved.

Komatsu Matere was founded on October 1943 under the name Komatsu Orimono Seiren Senkou, and then changed its name to Komatsu Seiren in 1963. For its 75th anniversary in October 2018, the company changed its name again to the current Komatsu Matere.

The word Seiren in the former names, meaning refinement in Japanese, refers to the process of removing debris in textile processing. However, the company’s activities are not limited to textiles and are wide-ranging: lifestyle, medical & healthcare, electronics, interior vehicle materials, environment, etc. While keeping in mind the expansion of its areas of activity, it aims for further diversification.