The cabinet maker and the geeks

Steven Leprizé is 32 years old. This rising star in cabinet making has been the recipient of the most prestigious awards in the craft industry. He works with the most demanding Houses. He has been running his ARCA design workshop for 10 years.

Arca is known for its inflatable wood, flexible wood and thermoformed wood. For this young cabinetmaker, innovation is at the heart of the approach of a craftsman who constantly seeks to push the limits of his technique to serve his creativity.

In 2015, Steven Leprizé is approached by the Ecole des Mines to accompany a thesis project on thermal projection. Alongside industrialists from the aeronautics and household appliances sectors, Steven Leprizé is a great advocate of the arts and crafts and decides to invest 12,000 euros per year to finance his thesis.

The Fondation Banque Populaire, of which he is a laureate, covers one third of the cost. In addition to the financial investment, hundreds of wooden cubes are made for the tests, dozens of sketches and 3Ds, and days of analysis and follow-up. But Steven Leprizé believes in the project.

The thermal spraying technique has been around for many years. It is used, for example, for the ceramic lamination of titanium hip prostheses, but also for the coating of parts subjected to high heat in Airbus engines. The machine consists of a spray nozzle that can be mounted on a robot. It can project any material available in micro-particles: metal, glass, ceramics. The industrial use of this technology had not previously made it possible to carry out tests on wood.

Michel Jeandin, director of research at the Ecole des Mines Paristech encourages collaborations with craftsmen. “They are full of ideas. The exchange with our engineers is extremely rich. Their creativity is contagious”.  The Ecole des Mines has a duty to build bridges between fundamental research and industry and does not make any distinction between small and large players. “Whether for a nuclear power plant or a work of art, the scientific analysis of usage is relevant. »

That’s when Steven Leprize got into the dance. “I immediately understood that in 10 years this type of machine could equip all workshops. For the coating first. This allows the substrate to be covered with any material. You can combine the properties of wood and metal, for example, to combine flexibility and solidity. We can work on the lamination and play with the thickness, approaching 3D technologies. From an ecological point of view, plasma spraying allows multi-material coating without adding solvents. But what excited me the most was the possibility to weld without glue by material projection. It is a clean technology that avoids the problems of chemical emanation. »

Then Steven Leprize started dreaming. “I immediately thought of a food use. I imagined a wooden smokehouse with a coating of sprayed aluminium particles. This makes it possible to have an extremely light, mobile room that meets the hygiene standards of professional kitchens”.

But his challenge is welding. Trials are underway with the Paristech Mining School to assemble a knife. “I know it will work, but we don’t yet have any perspective on durability.

The model of this knife will be presented at the Salon Révélations from May 22 to 26, 2019. It won’t be the only novelty on the ARCA stand: a piece of furniture with no doors or drawers that opens by air alone. A giant thermoformed wood chip. The famous smokehouse made from thermal spraying.

Métiers Rares, a digital agency and craftsmen’s collective, is proud to accompany Steven Leprizé .

Author: Raphaëlle

Arca Ebénisterie

Podcast Steven Leprizé @ The Craft Project