3D printing that everything can be made, this time focusing on the forest

When more and more attention is paid to environmental protection, the forest crisis has also attracted more people's attention. This group of people also includes pioneers in the 3D printing industry.

Recently, Desktop Metal , a 3D printing company, has created a new process. They stated that any type of "trees" can be 3D printed, and it is through the use of waste .

As a result, not only can more garbage and waste be recycled, but also wood can be recycled to reduce the endless felling of trees by humans.

Previously, 3D printing mainly used various plastic and metal materials to print. Now, wood can also be used as a printing material.

But, do you dare to use 3D printed wooden tables, wooden chairs, and wooden bowls?

3D printed wooden tables, wooden chairs, wooden bowls are here

This new process of 3D printing wood is called Forust.

Forust is also a subsidiary founded by Desktop Metal, which will specialize in the development of this new manufacturing process.

This process is to apply sustainable production to wooden parts through a patented single-pass adhesive injection technology .

Its sustainability is reflected in the fact that the raw materials for Forust printing are all waste by-products from the wood manufacturing and paper industries .

Forust collects cellulose dust from wood manufacturing and lignin from the paper industry. These two materials will be directly manufactured into corresponding wood products through high-speed 3D printing.

So instead of completely restoring an entire tree, it prints products that "imitate" real trees.

Waste wood can become exquisite, beautiful, and useful things from now on .

During the printing process, these specially treated sawdust will be scattered, and people will use CAD software and operational design to connect the raw materials together with a non-toxic and biodegradable resin adhesive.

This allows the printed wood to have the same hardness and function as traditional wood.

The special thing is that people can imitate any type of tree texture digitally .

As long as you design each layer of wood printing data in the background, you can print any texture you want.

It can print various wood textures such as red sandalwood, ash, zebra pattern, ebony, mahogany, etc. It also supports various wood stains and dyes them to the color of the corresponding trees.

Forust CEO Andrew Jeffery said that Forust offers almost unlimited design flexibility.

This also makes it closer to the real tree material, and there is more freedom to create .

After the printing is completed, people can sand, drill, dye, paint, polish, etc. as traditional wooden products.

At present, people can use the company's Shop System machine or RAM 336 to make wood products . They have the characteristics of compact, high-speed, one-pass printing engine, etc., which are very suitable for batch printing of small and medium-sized wooden parts. The Forust 3D printing tool equipped with a robotic arm is the largest Able to print wood products of 1800 x 900 x 300 mm.

Ric Fulop, CEO of Desktop Metals, believes that this process will be used in all walks of life.

For example, in the field of construction, you can make floors and roofs; in the field of luxury built-in parts, you can make exotic and rare texture parts for cars, yachts and high-end houses; in the field of furniture, you can make cabinets, tables, chairs, and doors; in the field of household goods, you can Make flower pots, sculptures, photo frames, tableware, etc…

They also showed some of their design samples. The products included various household items, such as utensils, bowls, baskets, and trays.

On the Forust store page , you can now buy the ready-made products printed by them. The first batch of products were designed by Swiss industrial designer Yves B é har, but the price is not cheap. A pallet costs 20 US dollars (about RMB 127). yuan).

With the launch of the first batch of products, Desktop Metal also provides architects, designers, and manufacturers with a new way of producing wooden products .

It is efficient, practical, free to design, and of course the most innovative and most important thing is environmental protection.

Is 3D printed wood really environmentally friendly?

The trend of 3D printing wood is only a small lotus with sharp corners, and it is impossible to judge its result through specific data.

However, we can go back to the 3D printed wood itself to see its impact.

3D printing on wood, back in 2013, there is a company called FormFutura to create a similar product , their product called LAYWOO-D3, 40% of the material is recycled wood, the rest is an adhesive polymer, but it It's more like a stack of wood wool, lacking real texture and insufficient density .

In the following years, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also developed special laboratory-grown wood cells, and researchers at the University of Freiburg developed environmentally friendly wood 3D printing materials, but they were either in their infancy. , Or the product is hard to compare with real wood .

Forust is indeed an innovative change.

Specifically, its environmental protection changes mainly include the following three points :

One is to use wood waste to reproduce the quality and texture of logs, making cellulose and lignin a sustainable asset .

The second is to freely create complex or unique wood designs, which can avoid streamlined production of complex wood designs .

The third is on-demand production. Manufacturers, designers, and even consumers can submit their own printed custom designs, order samples and seek large-volume partners, and produce these products on a large scale and long-term, thereby minimizing material waste, Spot inventory, and transportation pollution .

The first idea captures the pain points of deforestation. Wood waste is a serious problem .

The Balance website reported that 10% of all waste in landfills is wood waste. In 2010, 70.6 million tons of urban wood waste were generated, and this number has shown an increasing trend thereafter.

It is worth mentioning that Desktop Metal stated that if people buy 3D printed wooden products and they are worn out, they can be recycled again and new products can be printed out .

They hope that after the end of the life of the wooden products , users will have two choices. One is to throw them away like other wooden products, and they will be biodegraded over time, and the other is to reuse the materials through Forust. Future products.

Our vision is to create a truly circular manufacturing process.

Moreover, this process can allow sustainable manufacturing and cost-effective wood products to replace many types of plastics and polymers, which can also reduce the production and use of plastic products in various fields .

However, the cost of recycling wood waste still needs to be studied deeply. The fineness of the texture manufacturing process and the quality of wood waste after repeated use still need to be determined after a large number of product inspections.

In the production process mentioned in the second and third points, Forust also has something to question .

For example, the process of collecting waste wood and converting them into wood powder usually also consumes energy such as fossil fuels . If wood waste is used, glue, paint, toxic paint and other substances may also be burned in the waste. Then the carbon dioxide and toxins are discharged into the environment.

In addition, ZDNnet also pointed out that to extract lignin from waste paper pulp, harmful chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfide and sodium hydroxide must also be used, or after high-cost grinding, dioxane/water extraction, and then Purified in solvent.

Therefore, in the process of turning waste wood into recyclable materials, there are also many parts that damage the environment .

This is also a challenge that has always existed in sustainable development-creating a sustainable solution usually requires another unsustainable process to promote it .

Data shows that by 2027, the global finished wood products market is expected to reach US$1.8 trillion , and under such demand, Desktop Metal is the first company to commercialize 3D printing technology on a large scale.

They are transforming the subtractive industry that started with trees into an additive industry that started with the upgrading and recycling of wood waste.

But whether the vision of Desktop Metal can really be realized in the future, or the vision they said is just a kind of commercial advocacy, we have to wait and see.

What new changes can 3D printing bring to life?

Printing toys, printing shoe soles, printing bridges, printing houses, printing rockets… 3D printing seems to be omnipotent.

This technology, which appeared in the mid-1990s, was initially controlled by a computer to quickly superimpose “printing materials” such as liquid and powder on top of each other, and then turn the blueprint on the computer into a physical device.

In 1986, American scientist Charles Hull developed the first commercial 3D printer; in 1993, Massachusetts Institute of Technology obtained a patent for 3D printing technology; in 2005, the first high-definition color 3D printer Spectrum Z510 was launched on the market.

▲Spectrum Z510, picture from: Spectrum Z510

People at that time had unlimited expectations and illusions about 3D printing.

3D printing did not disappoint. Although the speed is not fast, the results of each printing are refreshing.

For example, in November 2010, the Jim Kor team in the United States printed the world’s first 3D printed car, Urbee. On June 6, 2011, the world’s first 3D printed bikini appeared. In July 2011, the world’s first The 3D chocolate printer is here.

▲ 3D printed car Urbee

From architecture, home furnishing, food, medical treatment to weapons, 3D printing has begun to be used in many fields .

3D printing was once regarded as the technology that led the third industrial revolution, but the outlets for 3D printing came and went quickly .

Around 2016, many 3D printing start-ups closed down one after another, and the trend of AI and blockchain came to the fore.

Researchers after the tuyere are not affected by it, and are still studying the new possibilities of 3D printing with composure——

On April 15, 2019, researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel used the patient's own tissues as raw materials to 3D print the world's first "complete" heart with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and atria.

At that time, this "heart" could contract, but it could not pump blood like a normal heart. Last year, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a new type of bio-ink and 3D printing technology to create structures with chambers, ventricles, and blood vessels. A heart that can pump blood.

Biological 3D printing allows us to see the infinite potential that 3D printing still exists. Although it will take at least more than ten years for real organ transplantation to confirm whether it can be applied to the human body, the development of technology is changing rapidly.

Many 3D printing technologies are still under research, and 4D printing has already emerged .

4D printing is actually equivalent to an upgrade of 3D printing technology. It combines "programmable matter" and "3D technology", so that 3D printed objects have a certain mechanical movement ability, which can generate shapes or structures under external stimuli. Change.

These new technologies in the "printing world" let us see the signs of hope, but we still feel that they are a bit far away from the present.

After the 3D printing vent, companies are constantly trying to make the cutting-edge technology of 3D printing more grounded .

A 3D printed house jointly developed by 3D printing company Icon and the local non-profit organization New Story has had its new owner this year-a 70-year-old homeless man Tim Shea.

The cost of this concrete 3D printed house is only $10,000. Its low cost, convenience, and comfort will also bring comfort to more homeless people around the world.

However, except for specific fields such as house construction and biological tissues, most of the popular 3D printing materials are still bondable materials such as metal or plastic.

The latest wooden materials, let us see the possibility of 3D printing into daily life.

Next, 3D printing will move from a single printing material to parallel printing of multiple materials . It will allow 3D printers to give products more diversified functions, smarter experiences, and more complex systems.

This will also make 3D printed products closer to everyone's life.

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