Printed wood, with grain and all

It’s sometimes ironic to look at 3D printing amongst solutions for more sustainable living, since most of the examples we see are printed in… plastic. There are a number of projects and tools to use recycled plastic and/or recycle what you print, but this one is a new twist. Transforming another by-product into a new printing material.

Desktop Metal has developed a way of using sawdust to make a printing material, which is then used to create wood-like objects.

[A]s counter-intuitive as 3D printed wood sounds, it’s actually a very smart use of material. Using byproducts of wood production, like sawdust and paper pulp, they are able to combine it with lignin and a binding agent, and create stunning objects that look like they were carved out of blocks of wood.

Because 3D printing is actually an additive process, creating objects layer by layer, this new technology, in a way, replicates the wood grain. The layers of material can be used to fake the rings in real wood, and since the bulk of the printing matter is actual wood, some treatments like colouring and varnish actually work in much the same way.

This is the kind of innovation that might lead to more sustainable modes of living, using more of each tree by transforming the sawdust, a less polluting printing material, and even the potential for re-use by grounding-up unrepairable wood objects and turning them into something new as printed things.

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