In the comments to several 3D printing blogs, we've talked about when it will be possible to print natural materials like wood. Does that sound like magic? It's not. You can 3D-print with wood filaments right now, using a choice of filament colors and widths.
True, the materials are usually a combination of wood with some type of polymer binding ingredient, and there's a range of price and quality. Objects made from these materials also vary in esthetic appeal, depending on design, materials, and finishing processes. Some look like plastic, some resemble low-grade, rough-cut lumber. Others are stunningly beautiful, high-end art objects made by architectural design firms that look just like the real thing.
Click the image below to see photos of 3D printed wood.
Architectural design firm Emerging Objects, like several other companies, claims to have invented 3D printing with wood. Theirs, they say, is a strong and rigid material, which seems to be true judging by photos of objects made with it, like this architectural wood-block element. It was invented as an alternate building material. (Source: Emerging Objects)
You're welcome, bobjengr. And good point about the wood grain detail, although the amount of detail possible varies from one 3D printing process to another. SLA, for example, is known for greater surface detail than FDM.
I can certainly understand why this is possible considering the detail 3-D printing can accomplish. Wood grain finishes make the piece otherwise it would not be distinguishable from any other "printed" design. 3-D printing always amazes me relative to the creative aspects of what can be done. Great post Ann.
Weathered oak is indeed a very hard material, and also a lot moreexpensive than hard yellow pine. My best results in using it have been with a Bridgeport milling machine and a very sharp cutter. Feed rates slower than for steel seem to work best. Sharp drill bits and pack drilling are the best choices for producing holes.
While yellow pine is hard and durable, I have never come across any wood as hard to work with as old weathered oak. I do not know what kind of oak it was (red, black, white or any other) but when my father-in-law tried to reuse the oak from a barn he dismantled he had to drill holes to get nails in. He even tried the hardened concrete nails. There is a big market around this area for weathered oak. It is used for decorative purposes on both interior and exterior walls where the builder is trying to replicate rustic pioneer sort of building.
You are so right. The Maker community is definitey a creative venue for exploring product ideas through fairs, workshops, and conferences. The collaboration that exists at these events is very contagious. Here's a new conference Dale Dougherty and the Maker Media company are holding next month.
mrdon, I think it's cool that many innovations are either starting in, or at least becoming popular among, the maker community. Serious materials development, though, requires investment dollars as shown with the first slides from the architects. But the maker community definitely is a venue for spreading new ideas, even if the execution quality often falls short.
Contour Crafting has been around for several years, but they're by no means the only company involved in 3D printed buildings. Others include D-Shape, StoneSpray, Freeform Construction, Marble Eco Design, and KamerMaker, all based in Europe.
It's amazing to see how 3D printing has become disruptive in the sense the technology was created to make rapid prototypes for engineering analysis. With the help of the Maker community the technology has transformed where printing of non-plastic materials are becoming the norm. Definitely an interesting technology to keep on one's radar.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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