[UPDATE: Tree-D printing is too good to be true, it was an April Fools day prank a day early. As much as we wanted it to be true – Shapeways does “print” metal, glass and acrylic after all – additive manufacturing with wood is still a ways off. Although, if you’re interested, digital file to finished physical object in wood is possible at Ponoko.]
From Freedom of Creation:
We have been preaching about the sustainability of 3D printing for a long time, but it is still quite difficult for most to understand the bigger picture. As all should know by now our transportation of the future will be limited to just emails and our stock is reduced to just files stored on our hard drives.
However, the base materials still need to be created from scratch and they still need to be shipped all over the world. We have been very motivated to find alternatives for this that truly democratize creation. This means there is a 3D printer available to everyone, that anybody can use and that uses common materials that are found anywhere on the planet. Let us introduce the most ecological way to create products. Here are our first results coming out of our Tree-D printer – printed in teak and mahogany.
We have been busy with our development now for over 2 years and so far we have been able to 3D print in a range of wood sorts from around the world. We have especially put a lot of effort into trying as many kinds of wood as possible, so the production can happen anywhere in the world. As long as there are trees. The material we use is most simple – just fine sawdust. It is difficult to find any cheaper or more ecological material than this. After all, it is a waste material. The binders we have developed are working well with most heavy wood sorts, but research is also underway to produce objects also from light woods such as Balsa. Our printing process results in a darker finish on the surface than the sawdust itself due to effects of the binder when it hardens.
Here you can see a comparison between a gray Laser Sintered Macedonia tray to a teak tray. The accuracy, which we have been able to create is quite astonishing with a very modest budget.
The strength of the objects is very similar to MDF, but naturally the complexity of the geometries we are able to produce is on a totally different level than compared to simple pressed wood. The process still takes about twice as much time compared to Selective Laser Sintering.