It’s been a rough few weeks for the world’s most popular dining table.
On Monday, the Japanese maker of the original chair was forced to recall a slew of its products after reports of a serious fire in its plant.
And a day later, the company’s chief executive resigned over allegations of bribery.
All of that comes after a recent spate of recalls over safety issues, including the recalled “Shelter” chair, which comes with a built-in water tank and can only be submerged for up to 10 minutes at a time.
To get around that, the makers of chairs are now looking to replace the wood in the base with carbon fiber.
The carbon fiber is lighter and stronger than traditional wood, which is why the company claims it can handle the high temperatures and pressures of a high-speed tumble drying process.
As such, it’s one of the most promising materials to replace traditional wood.
“It’s not a high tech material,” says Jeff Williams, director of materials and processes for the chair company Thermaworks.
“But the quality is great.
It has a good rigidity.”
But Williams and others caution that this technology could end up being used in a lot of kitchen tables.
“The problem with carbon is that you end up with a lot more heat sinking into the carbon,” he says.
“That’s the main reason you see so many people using them as chairs.”
Williams says the company plans to roll out the carbon-fiber chairs for consumers at a later date.
“We’re very excited to get them out into the world,” he tells Ars.
But it will take time.
“These chairs have a long history of being used as a table,” says Williams.
“If they’re used as chairs, we think it’s likely to be around for a long time.”
Williams is right about that: The chair was originally designed for use in a dining room and has since been seen in other uses.
But after a few years of use, the chairs were discontinued, and the company had to go back to making the seat.
The company also says it’s been working with a variety of partners to create a new version of the chair that can be used in other settings, such as a home office.
But those are two of the big challenges facing the company: How to design a new chair that is stronger and more durable than the previous version that has been used for so long, and how to make it work for a wide range of use scenarios.
“You can’t do it overnight,” says David Pemberton, the director of manufacturing at Thermawsorks.
That’s one reason the company decided to take this step after several reports of serious fires at the plant in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.
In a statement, the firm said it has received numerous reports of fires in the facility that resulted in the “loss of significant material and critical components.”
Pembertons team is working with the plant’s manufacturer to determine what caused the fires, and he says it could take months for the company to complete a new design.
“They’re working with their manufacturer to understand exactly what happened,” he said.
“Because they’re so close to it, we have the capability to go out and do a complete analysis.”
Pending those investigations, Thermewsons current chair is still the same one that the company produced in 2013.
But there are some changes.
The first step is to replace wood with carbon fibers.
“Wood is the most energy-intensive material,” Pembertons team says.
The new carbon fiber “is a more energy-efficient material than any other material that we’ve tested,” Pamberton adds.
“So that means you can make a lot faster changes than a traditional carbon fiber.”
And the company has plans to start testing carbon fiber on the company s new version by late summer.
Williams says that should be enough to keep the company busy for a while.
“I think we’re going to see a lot in the next six to eight months,” he predicts.