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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. Several to many furniture components are packaged in a carton which also contains assembly instructions and necessary hardware needed for the buyer to follow in order to build the furniture item correctly.
Ready-to-assemble furniture is popular among consumers who wish to save money on their furniture purchases by assembling the product on their own and no need for delivery cost. In addition to saving the consumer money, flat pack furniture is generally simple to assemble and requires only the use of simple tools.
Merchants benefit from selling ready-to-assemble furniture because furniture that is already assembled tends to be bulky and more expensive to store and to deliver. Since the furniture does not need to be assembled in the factory, ready-to-assemble furniture is also less expensive for the merchant to purchase. Due to these many factors, selling flat pack furniture is a more cost-effective method of conducting business.
Ready-to-assemble furniture is typically packaged in a kit form with the pieces packaged in one or multiple boxes. The kit may contain a number of flat parts, fasteners, fixings, and other parts that are needed to assemble the furniture.
A furniture assembly industry has grown up around ready-to-assemble furniture and consumers can engage a service provider to come to their home and assemble the furniture they have purchased.
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".