Israeli Scientists Develop 3D Printer Wood ‘Ink’

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Researchers at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University have unveiled a 3D printer “ink” that is capable of producing printed wooden materials.

The technology takes organic wood derivatives and develops them into a paste, which is then used as ink by a 3D printer. As the paste dries, it warps into the desired shape.
Doron Kam, a PhD student working on the project, told The Times of Israel that the technology contains two main stages.

First, organic material is broken down into wood ‘flour’ and then combined with two other organic products that act as an adhesive.

In the second stage, the material is placed in a 3D printer, which proceeds to print a flat, 2D object. In regular tree wood, the structure of the cells determines the shape the wood will warp into as it dries. However, with the Hebrew University’s new technology, scientists can themselves control the cell structure, and therefore control the exact shape that the product will form as it dries and warps.

“We are trying to make a material that won’t last forever, that’s what plastic is for. We are not looking for that,” Kam said.

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Rather, Kam’s team envisions a material that lasts for “three or four years of use, and then you can grind it down and print it again. This is sustainability in our product, this is our principle.”

The team at Hebrew University is focusing its resources on the scientific process behind the concept, and so far has only produced small sample pieces.

The technology’s ability to produce large-scale items remains unproven. Kam insisted that it could be done, telling The Times of Israel that the printed wood product would maintain the same strength and durability as regular tree wood. The printed wood can even maintain the aesthetic properties of its original source, allowing a user to select between different types of wood, such as oak or pine.