3D Printing Community Experiments With Wood
(3Ders.org) Handcrafted solid wooden furniture is popular because of its unique aesthetic. But wooden furniture has always been expensive because of the high costs of quality wood, experienced craftsman as well as the high demand from the market. The 3D printing community is experimenting with wood to meet this market need. Wood-based materials are very attractive because of wood’s organic and eco-friendly characteristics. And in a world where 3D printers are printing tons of plastics, wood-based materials could be the next big thing in 3D printing.
Voxeljet, a company that provides high-speed, large-format 3D printers, is currently developing new material sets, including wood powder. Voxeljet’s printers use powder-binding technology, which involves chemical binding agents used to bind together the material being printed. Wood-based materials that allow users to create 3D-printed wooden objects are garnering attention from engineers, designers and makers with an interest in sustainability. A year ago, inventor Kai Parthy created the first wood material for desktop 3D printer called LAYWOO-D3. It is made up of 40 percent recycled wood fiber, combined with a polymer binder. It can be melted and extruded like all of the other commercially available 3D filaments on the market.
A few startups have demonstrated their new wood filament with different characteristics. For example, ColorFabb’s WoodFill filaments come in 2.85mm and 1.75mm and began to be available in spools. Another wood-based material, the Pop Wood filament from Chinese manufacturer PopBit, is a new composite material made up of original poplar powder. The processing temperature of the Pop Wood is 170-230C, and similar to the LAYWOO-D3 and WoodFill; it will take on a different shade of brown, depending on the temperature at which it’s printed.