3-D Printer Turns Sawdust into Beautiful Wooden Objects

Changing the way people think about wood.

Jun 29, 2022
3-D Printer Turns Sawdust into Beautiful Wooden Objects | Changing the way people think about wood.

As a technology, 3-D printing has changed so many aspects of our lives: from construction, to design, and even organ transplants. Now, a startup in Boston, Massachusetts is using 3-D printers to change the way people think about wood. 

Imagine saving forests with the bi-products of wood manufacturing. Amazingly, Forust, an innovative 3-D printing company is doing just that. According to their website, the company has created what is essentially a new type of wood that can be printed using sawdust and lignin, an organic polymer found in plants, and another bi-product of the wood industry. 

The “wood” created using 3-D printing is very durable, according to Forbes. Natural wood tends to break along grain but Forust’s product is uniform in strength. The end pieces look so natural that people may never know they were 3-d printed.

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“We’re producing interior design products sustainably,” Andy Jeffery, Forust’s CEO told Forbes. “We’re using discarded materials to produce beautiful, upscale materials using upcycled sawdust and lignin. They sand and finish just like wood, and we can vary the density to mimic different wood densities. We provide beautiful, functional parts that don’t hurt the environment.”

More Than Forests
The environmental damage that is a result of the logging and wood industries is not limited to the destruction of our forests. According to the company, sawdust, the bi-product of working with wood, is often either burned creating carbon dioxide or put into landfills which could be harmful to the environment because that releases large quantities of lignin and fatty acids when it deteriorates. 

Almost 100 million tons of sawdust is created each year in the US alone, Jeffrey told Fast Company, and  that’s the equivalent of about 30 to 40 million trees. “We’re preventing trees from being cut down,” he said.

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Numerous Advantages
Beyond the environmental benefits, there are also other advantages to the combination of sawdust and 3-D printing. For one, sawdust is cheap. And since sawdust is widely available all over the world, according to Fast Company,  and the printers can likewise be located anywhere, this could solve a lot of supply-chain issues. 

Other advantages are aesthetic, reported Forbes. The 3-D printing process makes it possible for what is essentially a composite wood to look like real wood all the way through. Colors and gradients can be added as the layers are printed, giving the look and feel of any type of wood. In addition, the 3-D printing process has the advantage of being able to carve wood into any shape imaginable

The possibilities are endless. So far, Forust has created two types of printers, one for low-batch production, and the other for high-volume production. The printers and wood can be used in everything from home-goods to furniture to high-end architectural design. More importantly, it will enable the company to start doing what it originally set out to do, saving forests

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Tiki is a freelance writer, editor, and translator with a passion for writing stories. She believes in taking small actions to positively impact the world. She spends her free time reading, baking, creating art, and walking her rescue dog.