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Olympus to develop wooden camera?

Mark Peters
Photokina report
Thursday 28th, September 2006
Posted by: Mark Peters

Olympus announces the development of a three dimensional compression moulding process for wooden materials. The new process draws extensively on Olympus expertise in precision metal-forming technologies. The processed wooden material has the feel and grain pattern of natural wood, but is much harder than engineering plastics such as ABS and polycarbonate resins. Strong enough to be used to create the outer casings of electronic products, the material can enhance the aesthetic value and pleasure of ownership that those products provide. A prototype example of a camera case created using this new technology will be exhibited at the photokina 2006, being held in Cologne, Germany.

Olympus wooden camera

Development background
The efficiency, convenience, and lower costs associated with mass production technologies have inundated us in a sea of products. But at the same time, there has been a decline in the aesthetic satisfaction that many of those products provide. So we stepped back to consider what we could do to increase the aesthetic satisfaction that products provide.

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Olympus wooden camera body
One answer was to use wood - the natural colour, patina, and grain of which are almost universally appreciated as things of beauty. We therefore focused on the idea of using a three-dimensional compression moulding process to produce a wood-based material thin enough and hard enough to be used to make the casings for electronic products. With the successful development of this process, it is our hope that consumers will enjoy greater aesthetic satisfaction and a sense of personal attachment with future products that are made from this new wood material.

Olympus wooden camera

Details of the new technology
Using the newly-developed three-dimensional compression moulding process, the specific gravity of a piece of cypress wood was increased from approximately 0.4~0.5 to more than 1 (approximately 2.5x compression). The resulting material is thin enough to be used as a casing material for electronic products, yet is much harder than the ABS and polycarbonate resin-based engineering plastics that are normally used to produce such casings. It is this special three-dimensional compression moulding technology that enables the material to be used to make electronic product casings.

Olympus moulding technologies
Proprietary Olympus moulding technologies developed for the production of digital camera, microscope, and endoscope lenses are used to form the wood material into the desired shape. The application of these high-precision moulding technologies to wood compression moulding results in an attractive natural patina that significantly reduces the need to post-process the material.

Olympus wooden camera

Photokina 2006 - Olympus
An example of a camera case created using this new technology will be exhibited at the Olympus stand (located in hall 2.2, booth B 030/040) during photokina 2006 in Cologne, Germany, being held September 26 - October 1, 2006. This example is being shown purely as a demonstration of the technology’s possible future potential, and is not meant to suggest that there are specific plans to introduce such a product in any market.

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