3D printing of "wood-like" objects possible

During the process of building with wood, many leftover bits are produced, which often end up going to waste. The construction of one single-family home produces over 5,000 pounds of wood waste. Materials scientists are working on a way to take wood that would normally end up in a landfill and turn it into 3D printer ink. 

From the abstract:

Natural wood has served as a foundational material for buildings, furniture, and architectural structures for millennia, typically shaped through subtractive manufacturing techniques. However, this process often generates substantial wood waste, leading to material inefficiency and increased production costs. A potential opportunity arises if complex wood structures can be created through additive processes. Here, we demonstrate an additive-free, water-based ink made of lignin and cellulose, the primary building blocks of natural wood, that can be used to three-dimensional (3D) print architecturally designed wood structures via direct ink writing.

The 3D-printed wood retains many of the characteristics of natural wood, including the smell. During the process, it is also possible to incorporate textures to provide a more realistic feel. Although the work scientists have done so far is promising, there are some caveats. So far, only tiny objects have been printed using this technique, so they won't be building homes or 3D-printing leftover wood furniture anytime soon. The team also acknowledges that "Although the materials used in this work are all sourced from sustainable resources, we do use energy-intensive processes…," so that would have to be improved to make this technique truly eco-friendly.

Previously: 3D printing with "wood flour"