3D Printing with Wood Fibres

09 JUL 2019
Wood has always been one of those materials that you cut away at to reveal the item within - just as Michelangelo envisaged with his marble sculptures. But now a way has been developed to turn wood fibres into an 'ink' that can be printed to created 3D materials.

The Research shows that the print head can mimic the structure of wood. "They printed out honeycomb structures, with chambers in between the printed walls, and then managed to encapsulate solid particles inside those chambers." This will mean that wood derived materials can replace plastics and metals in a sustainable manner. The feed material for the inks can also be from the waste of more traditional wood working techniques.

A paper published in Applied Materials Today describes "a 3D printing platform which mimics wood biogenesis for the assembly of wood biopolymers into wood-like hierarchical composites." The key here is composites because now wood can be reinforced with other materials to give it new properties. For instance we can imagine a conducting wood, or one that is more elastic, or imbued with richer colours.

By using wood in this way not only are carbon dioxide producing fuels supplanted, but the wood stores carbon within the product. And depending on how the composite is formed it could be in a manner that is effectively sequestration. If the materials can be produced in bulk and with sufficient strength then perhaps we can see wooden I-beams or PFCs used for structural purposes.
By Hab3