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Ready-to-assemble furniture (RTA), also known as knock-down furniture (KD), flat pack furniture, or kit furniture, is a form of furniture that requires customer assembly. The separate components are packed in cartons which also contain assembly instructions. The furniture is generally simple to assemble with basic tools such as screwdrivers, which are also sometimes included.
Ready-to-assemble furniture is popular with consumers who wish to save money by assembling the product themselves and collecting the furniture from the store, saving delivery costs.
Producers and merchants benefit from selling ready-to-assemble furniture because ready-assembled furniture tends to be bulky and thus more expensive to store and to deliver. Because the work of assembly is done by the consumer instead of in the factory, it is also cheaper to produce.
A furniture assembly service industry has developed, where consumers can employ someone to assemble their furniture for them.
Knockdown furniture has a long history, with obvious precedents in campaign furniture. The New American Cyclopaedia of 1859 listed knockdown furniture as "an American invention" citing the usual advantages of easy shipment, but examples of Chinese trade furniture from the century prior show the same features. Furniture designed for travel or storage used the same principles of design for centuries. An early (1878) US patent captures the essence of knock-down design: "The invention relates to that class of furniture which is so constructed that it may be packed and transported in parts, and put together for use by skilled or unskilled persons."
Ready-to-assemble furniture can be purchased for a number of purposes:
- Living room furniture
- Office furniture
- Outdoor furniture
- Patio sets
- Kitchen cabinets
- CD/DVD storage racks
- "Detailed guide for any DIY Ikea assembly: DO's and DON'Ts for none professional assemblers". Flatpackmates.
- Ripley, George; Anderson, Charles Anderson (1859). The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Volume 8. New York: Appleton. p. 30. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
- "Improvement in chairs".