3D-Printing Wood that Purposefully Morphs

Wood’s tendency to warp has long been a hindrance to designers, but researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are trying to change that. Using wood-waste micro-particles (called “wood flour”) and cellulose nanocrystals and xyloglucan (natural binders extracted from plants), the researchers developed an environmentally friendly water-based ink that harnesses wood’s ability to morph. When the ink is used in a 3D printer, the researchers were able to determine how the wood morphs, based on the way its laid down. (Printing concentric circles, for instance, leads to shrinkage akin to a Pringle chip.) With this knowledge, the team can program a print speed and form that creates a purposeful morphed shape with the goal of printing more complicated structures, like chairs, down the line. “Eventually, it might be feasible to license the technology for home use so consumers could design and print their own wooden objects with a regular 3D printer,” says principal researcher Eran Sharon. Read more about this at Core77.

Image courtesy of American Chemical Society