I came across 3D Printing in the press 11 years ago and followed it since. For four years, I have more actively participated in this revolution.
The real challenge is to define 3D-Plus-Wood in an appropriate way. I have learnt that 3D Printing as we understand it conventionally is simply not possible with wood.
Plastics, ceramics and metals are fairly isotropic materials and allow a homogenous, multi-directional repositioning – when converted from powder into solid objects. The properties of wood are linear and organic, which do not permit retention of properties the moment we powder it. Even the appearance changes, which is not the case with other powders.
Effectively, PLA with wood powder is technically “a cement”. It does not result in wood. An aggregate + binder = cement even if the aggregate “used to be” wood. IF the product becomes rigid and non-re-formable, then it becomes “a concrete”. Current raw materials using wood powder and binders may deform total if [re]heated to 60º-70º C.
IF real wood does not behave like this, then we have to find a process, that retains the properties of wood – structural and visual – and find an automated process to build objects from it. This is why the definition, of such a process, that becomes the challenge.
Thank you Samir, I feel your description perfectly encapsulates my criticism of desk top printers that are using wood. It feels like wood came late to the 3d filament party and is now doing what it can to just “fit in”, or “fill in”. The wood seems to be little more than a filler flour that could probably be replaced by many other materials, such as bamboo. I do appreciate that the resulting models can be sanded, cut and finished like real wood, but as you point out Samir, this technique lacks many of the virtues of real wood.
A further challenge is that, at this scale, wood has a LOT of competition. I am continually amazed at what is being printed from dirt, plastic, metal, organics, clay….. These materials are either cheaper, stronger or more abundant. It is hard to see where wood shines and stands out in the crowded room.
I think we should focus on developing the additive manufacturing of wood at the next two scales, the scale of furniture and the scale of buildings. Wood has a strong history of additive manufacturing at these scales, we just need to develop it a little further.