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3D Printing with Wood Challenge

Casting LOM

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  • #3969

    Mark Anson

    I recently built an object using standard 1/8″ rotary cut hemlock veneer that was laser cut before being glued up into a cube.  When the cube was cracked open, a pumpkin was revealed.  When the pumpkin was removed from the cube, a void remained that was the perfect negative space of the pumpkin and could be used to cast additional pumpkins….say out of concrete.   Laminated object manufacturing with wood can be used to create moulds that may allow for the casting of far more complex concrete structures, at an architectural scale.

    I propose to wood “print” a reusable mould for a concrete bus shelter.  The structure would be based on principles of biomimicry, allowing it to be both elegant and rational.

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  • #3982


    That is really interesting, great work there. I can see that selling a lot during Halloween but given the small size can’t we just 3d Print it directly in 1 step instead of gluing it and building it in sections here.


    Mark Anson

    LOL, yes, I did not build a pumpkin as a retail object.  I chose it because  it is a complex shape with interesting curvatures.  I was also concerned that if I built a practical object, then people would be more likely to discuss the merits of the object, as opposed to the merits of the process.

    Of note, the pumpkin has a perfectly spherical void in its centre (with a lid).

    Imagine that out of a press comes what looks like a rectangular lift of plywood, say 4’W x 8’L x 4’H.  On closer inspection, you realize that the veneer was all cut before the glueing and what you really have is a block of objects.  Maybe contained in that lift of plywood is….. 800 nested bicycle helmets…….or the mould for a complicated concrete to steel pin connection.  Waste reduction would have to come through careful “packing” of the press, all done in the computer before the cutting.



    Samir Shah

    Hi Mark,

    If you do the math, taking 2 solid blocks of wood and routing+milling them to make the pumpkin mould would be faster, considerably cheaper, and less wasteful of material.

    Faster is obvious.

    Cheaper – use of inferior wood would be just fine.  Handling would be negligible compared to all those panels: a) pre-cut to fit the machine, b) CAD based laser-cutting plan, c) laser-cutting, d) extraction of pieces and layering, e) disposal of negative waste parts from each plate, f) glue, g) heat pressing

    Less wasteful – if you consider from tree-to-finished-mould for an object, using a block of solid wood is the least wasteful. If you use panel boards, there is material waste, and carbon-emmission to making those panels (including vehicular emissions for transporting trees to mills, mills-to-panel plants, and panel-plants to Home Depot or wherever) before you use it as a raw material to make mould.

    Instead just take a block of wood from a lumber mill (often end waste is available) direct to your CNC router-miller.

    Hope this helps.


    Mark Anson

    I agree Samir, LOM has the potential for fantastic waste, BUT rotary cut veneer is one of the most efficient ways of harvesting a log.  And if the objects are properly nested, very little waste needs to occur.

    A solid block of wood can not be CNC’d hollow.  Every time the cutter is used it produces almost useless waste.  This is a case where every tool has its job, and no tool is appropriate for everything.

    A solid block of wood is prone to checking and diminutional instability. Cross laminated veneers are relatively stable.  Further, for large objects, you need large blocks of high quality wood, while LOM could be done at very large scales while still using nothing more than run of the mill 1/8″ veneer, or custom 1/4″ veneer (easily done, but not produced for plywood).

    We have an abundance of peeler logs in B.C., what we need is more value added products that use veneer.  We know how to peel, handle and dry large sheets of wood.  It is already done at an industrial scale which means almost all of the machinery is currently available and affordable.  Further,  processes already exist for using wood veneer scraps….parallam for example.

    On the flip side, let’s look at the products that can be made from LOM.  If we can build formwork that allows concrete to be used more effectively in buildings, such as fractal geometries or biometric forms, then we may be able to dramatically effect the cost of construction, both economically  and environmentally.   We need to break out of the notion that the only shape veneer can be made into is a plywood panel or a bent chair.

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