3d wood printing

3d wood printing : how to print wood in 3D ?

3D printers are now able to use many types of materials to operate. Among these, wood. We explain what are the possible uses, how it works and what are the best 3D printers using wood. 

Why limit yourself to plastic? This is undoubtedly the question that the first researchers must have asked themselves when they began to work on other materials for 3D printing. Clay, metal, newspaper and therefore wood… Currently, a multitude of different materials can be used for 3D printing. What are the advantages of wood? Why and how to use it? We take stock with you.

impression 3d bois

Reprap, the avant-garde 3D wood printer

Launched in 2013, the RepRap 3D printer is one of the first to have explored the advantages of wood for 3D printing by accepting a coil of wire made from this material . It was obviously not pure wood but composite wood made of wood fibers and plastic resin. A material that has already proven itself in the dressing and insulation of buildings and outdoor furniture. Indeed, it is resistant to different weather conditions, does not react to the sun and above all does not vary over time.

In 2015, a Swedish researcher proposed a variant based on liquefied cellulose . The advantage of this substance mixed with a hydrogel created with more than 95% water is that it is completely biodegradable. This technology, which is still reserved for the professional environment, however, shows that the future of 3D wood printing could well be ecology.

Impression 3 with wood : what are the advantages?

Beyond the ecological potential, wood-based 3D printing has real advantages over plastic materials. From a visual point of view first. The result is much neater and above all gives a very special cachet to the objects . Odors are also there, with very significant variations depending on the type of wood used.

Composite wood spools are also very affordable. This allows by playing on the cooking temperature to obtain very different results from one test to another. For now, it is still a somewhat innovative use that mainly concerns makers , but little by little, new materials are replacing it in the unusual category. It should therefore be democratized quickly.

Which filament to choose?

Several types of filaments are available, each with their specificities, their advantages but also their limits . We have selected four of them to be able to present them to you.

Woodfill . Designed by Colorfabb, it is one of the most used models on the market. But it has a big problem, it has a tendency to clog the nozzles of 3D printers. Even if it lasts only a few seconds, it can cause serious defects on your part. But, if you don’t have any worries, the result will be very neat visually.

Polywood . Here is a bit of cheating. This filament, designed by the company Polymakr, has the texture and color of wood… but it is plastic. No risk of obstruction therefore. On the other hand, its fill rate is low, so you will have to spend more time there.

Laywood D-3 . Composed of 40% recycled wood, it was created at the same time as the Reprap 3D printer. It will vary pleasantly in color depending on the printing temperature, but beware, it is rather fragile.

Easywood Coconut . Here the base is… coconut mixed with polymers. The FormFutura company that created it focuses mainly on the look and the smell, which are both very successful. Overall, it is a very interesting filament even if really thought for specific uses.

Carvey, an alternative to the 3D printer with wood

Most 3D printers on the market are designed to be used with many types of filament including wood . Of course, we invite you to check in your instructions or with your supplier so as not to make any mistakes. Some will also have more difficulty depending on the nozzles equipped.

However, we still particularly appreciate Carvey for the emphasis placed on sculpture. We generally associate wood with manual work, with art and it is on this trend that Carvey plays. Launched on Kickstarter at the end of 2014, the project was funded in just over an hour and in the end, more than $626,000 was raised .

This object, which is mainly intended for sculpture, allows you to work with wood, plastic and even metal. Just place the material you want to sculpt inside. Once your model has been designed on the very easy-to-use software, you start the machine. This will allow you to create many objects whether they are unique pieces or replacements. Be careful, however, you will need to count 2500 dollars to acquire it .

Metal as an alternative to wood for 3D printing

If 3D printing in wood seduces by its natural side, it should be noted that it does not yet succeed in replicating all the properties of the material, in particular its robustness. So, don’t plan to use it if you want to make a chair.

For this type of project, metal remains the best option if you want to have a certain cachet. Thanks to its solidity , the latter has conquered sectors as demanding as aerospace or cars. However, printing metal parts in 3D requires great expertise, and the technique remains the prerogative of professionals .

In fact, if you are looking for an industrial metal 3D printer , suppliers such as Transtec Machines-Outils offer suitable models. Thanks to this technology, we are freed from the traditional creative processes (casting, forging and machining).

Of all the metals, aluminum is the most versatile. This is the key to its current success. Indeed, it can withstand enormous weights and high temperatures while being light. To make ornamental objects, one can choose bronze or copper . But for jewelry, nothing beats precious metals like gold , silver , and platinum . Finally, if resistance is desired before, there is stainless steel . And since it can easily be made to look like other metals, it also lends itself to works of art, even jewelry.

To find out all about 3D printers beyond models for wood, discover new models, innovative trends, our guides and comparisons, go to our new dedicated section .

What is 3d wood printing ?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing or direct digital manufacturing, makes it possible to manufacture an object by creating a digital object and 3D printing it at home or sending it to a growing number of 3D printing services in line. In the 3D printing process, this digital model, created using computer-aided design (CAD) software, is cut into two-dimensional representations, which are transmitted to a printer, which begins to accumulate layers of the object one after the other from its base. Layers of material (in liquid, powder or filamentous form) are deposited on an “accumulation zone” and fused together. This additive process, which limits waste because it uses only the amount of material required to manufacture the component (as well as its support),

There are several 3D printing techniques. The first commercial 3D printing technique, stereolithography, was invented in 1984 by Charles Hull. Several other techniques emerged later, including Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and PolyJet Matrix. Some of these techniques involve melting or softening layers of material, others involve bonding powdery materials, still others involve selectively squirting or hardening liquid materials.

The process of “growing” objects layer upon layer also means that, with 3D printing, it is possible to create more complex structures than traditional manufacturing techniques allow.

3d wood printing : Current apps

Originally, 3D printing was designed to achieve rapid prototyping, by making one or two physical samples. It allowed designers to quickly and inexpensively detect and correct design flaws, speeding up the product manufacturing process and minimizing business risk. According to CSC business analysts, prototyping, which accounts for around 70% of the 3D printing market, remains the main business application for this technique.

Nevertheless, improvements in the accuracy and speed of this technique, as well as in the quality of the materials used, have caused certain commercial sectors to no longer limit the use of 3D printing to their research and development (RD) laboratories. ) by integrating it into their manufacturing strategy.

This technique is already widely used to manufacture jewelry and other custom-made fashion items, to produce crowns, bridges and implants in dental laboratories, as well as in the production of prostheses and hearing aids, so to offer patients a perfectly adapted solution. 3D printing is particularly suitable for short, low-volume production and offers companies a more flexible, cost-effective and faster solution compared to traditional mass production methods.

Use in automotive and aerospace industries

This technique is also used to manufacture complex parts for the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. Major automakers, such as GM, Jaguar, Land Rover and Audi, have been manufacturing auto parts using 3D printing for years. Leaders in the aeronautics sector such as Airbus (which is part of EADS – European aerospace and defense group) and Boeing use it to improve the performance of their aircraft and reduce maintenance and fuel costs. Boeing uses 3D printing to produce thermal control circuits for its 787 model. Thermal control circuits generally require the production and assembly of about twenty different parts but they can be made in one piece by 3D printing .th century. It can be used for a wide variety of materials, from metals to plastics – including composites – and results in faster and more efficient production. It uses less raw materials and allows the manufacture of lighter, more complex and more resistant parts: in short, it is a lighter and more ecological technique, which can be used in many sectors, ranging from aviation to consumer products”, explains Mr. Jean J. Botti, Technical Director at EADS.

Aircraft components made by 3D printing are 65% lighter but just as strong as traditional machined parts, resulting in considerable cost savings and significant reductions in carbon emissions. For every kilogram less, airlines save about US$35,000 in fuel over the lifetime of an aircraft.

Aircraft designers have already planned to 3D print an entire aircraft by 2050. To this end, Airbus has recently partnered with a South African airline and the South African Research Council Scientific and Industrial (CSIR) (see http://tinyurl.com/a9mx6l3) to study the use of titanium powder layered additive manufacturing to build large-scale complex aircraft components. Although expensive, titanium is light, strong and durable and is well suited for aircraft construction. In traditional manufacturing, it wears heavily on machine tools because it hardens when cut. These problems disappear in a 3D printing environment.

3d wood printing in space

NASA engineers are producing 3D-printed parts that are structurally stronger and more reliable than conventionally made parts for the US agency’s space launch system. The Mars Rover includes some 70 custom-made parts using 3D printing. Scientists are also studying the possibility of using 3D printers in the international space station to manufacture spare parts on site. What was once science fiction has now become reality.

3d wood printing : applications in medicine

Medicine is perhaps one of the most interesting fields of application. 3D printing is not only used to produce prosthetics and hearing aids, it is also used to treat difficult-to-treat diseases and to advance medical research, including in the field of regenerative medicine. In this area, progress is rapid and impressive.

In 2002, surgeons at Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles used 3D-printed models to plan a complex surgery to separate Guatemalan conjoined twins Maria Teresa and Maria de Jesús Quiej-Alvarez. Thanks to these models, the operation lasted 22 hours instead of the 97 hours normally expected for this type of procedure.

In 2011, surgeons at the University Hospital of Ghent (Belgium) performed one of the most complex facial transplants, making extensive use of 3D printing to plan and perform the operation. Anatomical models and guides adapted to the patient were produced by 3D printing in order to be used before and during the operation (see http://tinyurl.com/cd2hz2n ).

In February 2012, using a 3D printer, doctors and engineers from the University of Hasselt performed the first successful transplant of an artificial jaw on an 83-year-old woman suffering from a chronic bone disease. « You can build parts that you can’t create using any other technique, » notes Ruben Wauthle, a medical applications engineer at Layerwise, the company that built the implant, in a BBC report. “For example, you can print porous titanium structures that promote bone growth as well as better lifespan.”

The world’s first 3D bio-printer

3D printing is even being used to make new human tissue. In 2009, Organovo, in partnership with Invetech, created the world’s first 3D bio-printer. From human cells, the MMX™ produces 3D tissues for medical research, in particular for the development of drugs and therapeutic applications. In late 2010, Organovo announced that it had produced the first bioprinted blood vessels.

3d wood printing enters the public arena

Besides these fascinating commercial applications, 3D printing is starting to seep into mainstream society. “The era of computer-aided manufacturing has begun,” notes former Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, in his recently published book Makers : The New Industrial Revolution .

Although 3D printers are not yet a common part of household computing equipment, the latest generation of devices, such as Cube® from 3D Systems, the Cubex™ or the Replicator™2X from Makerbot – which sell for prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 – making DIY an increasingly accessible solution.

According to a study by Wohlers Associates, the sale of products and services obtained by additive manufacturing will reach 3.7 billion US dollars in 2015, and will climb to 6.5 billion in 2019.

The free software movement is driving the use of 3D printing

The use and development of 3D printing is fueled by the dynamism of the free software movement. For example, the RepRap initiative (short for replicating rapid prototyper ), founded in 2005 by Mr. Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath (UK), produced a low-cost 3D printer capable of printing the most of its own components. The designs of the project, including the machine itself, are under a free license (the GNU General Public License).

One of the initiative’s goals is to make low-cost computer-aided manufacturing systems available to individuals anywhere in the world, so that they can manufacture complex products with low capital investment. A ready-to-assemble RepRap costs around US$500. Since the RepRap printer design is freely licensed, anyone can modify, improve, manufacture and sell it. CSC commercial analysts report that the “innovation rate of RepRap and its derivatives is growing faster than equivalent commercial 3D printers”.

Similarly, the Fab@Home project aims to “bring personal manufacturing into your home”. The project’s website explains that the community includes hundreds of engineers, inventors, artists, students and hobbyists – « both people who can develop the technology and people who want to use it. to make one-of-a-kind pieces.

Appearance of online 3d wood printing platforms

With the growing number of online 3D printing platforms, such as Makerbot ‘s Thingiverse platform, individuals can upload and share their designs or upload designs for manufacturing.

For people without direct access to 3D printing, a growing number of online services are available. Shapeways and Sculpteo, for example, provide platforms for individuals to share and realize their ideas by providing access to state-of-the-art software and 3D printers. As of August 2012, Shapeways had nearly 7,000 stores and over 16,000 members, who had printed over one million products.

A suite of software applications, such as Autodesk 123D, is also available for people who want to design and customize objects on their home computers.

A new era of mass customization

3D printing heralds a new era of mass customization. In January 2013, Nokia announced that it was making 3D printable files of its Lumia 820 model case available to customers, so they could create their own designs and print them on any 3D printer. Although it is unlikely, as MIT professor Neil Gershinghoff points out, that consumers will print what is readily available in stores. When it comes to making custom objects, gadgets or irreplaceable parts, the possibilities of 3D printing applications know no bounds.

Unleash innovation potential

For this manufacturing technique to reach its full potential, a number of technical hurdles still need to be overcome, particularly with regard to the cost of materials, the quality of productions, size limitations and production capacity. That being said, as the consulting firm CSC observes, “3D printing provides a platform for collaboration that accelerates innovation and enhances disruption in the material world, just as the Internet has spurred collaboration, innovation and enhanced disruption of the material world”.

Chris Anderson explains that “when a technique can be done on a computer, it not only becomes cheaper, smaller, better, more and more ubiquitous; it is also used in different ways”. It becomes “a vector of ideas which become different things, … businesses, … movements. And now it’s happening”.

What 3D printing heralds, known as the “democratization” of manufacturing, has enormous potential to unleash the creativity of the masses and spur economic growth.

Traditional manufacturing requires a high level of capital investment and large volumes of product lines. With a significant reduction in start-up capital, cost and business risk, 3D printing makes it easier for everyone to participate in the manufacturing process and test their ideas.

The full implications of its widespread adoption are not yet clear, but by making “manufacturing on demand” a realistic possibility, the use of 3D printing could transform the global landscape for manufacturing and commerce. It can decrease the need to maintain inventory and thus significantly reduce warehousing and transportation costs, simplify supply chains and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing.

3d wood printing Intellectual property challenges

3d wood printing poses a number of regulatory challenges relating to the protection of intellectual property.

Just as the digitization of creative content has led to changes in the creative industries and fueled tensions around existing copyright, 3D printing may spark similar debates. However, given the global scale of manufacturing, the stakes could be higher.

3D printing is both a manufacturing technique and a digital technology; therefore, it facilitates the unauthorized copying of objects. Like other digital files, CAD plans are easy to copy and difficult to trace. Copying is also facilitated by the existence of low-cost 3D scanners, which make it possible to scan an immediately available standard product, create a 3D plan and distribute it online.

As the Big Innovation Center found in a study, the ability to copy physical products easily and cheaply could diminish the incentives for companies to invest in research and development and design. Furthermore, the continued evolution of the use of technology will depend on openness and the ability to combine designs. The need to strike a balance between these interests
– ensuring that incentives and rewards are in place for those who invest in new ideas, without hampering innovation and openness in the use of industrial designs in line – will be key in moving IP policy makers forward. Mechanisms that facilitate the licensing and legitimate sharing of design-related files will play a key role in addressing this challenge.

This brief recap of some promising applications for which 3D printing is being used demonstrates that the “paradigm shift in manufacturing” that so many people talk about is well underway. The implications of the continued evolution and use of 3D printing are far-reaching and promise to have a drastic effect on how things are made and how business is done. If the last 20 years have been exciting in terms of technological progress, the years to come could well be even more so.