New 3D printer uses scrap wood as natural feedstock

Processing wood into planks and plywood results in 12 million tons of scrap filling landfills each year. Now, some of that scrap wood can become feedstock for a 3D printer. Unlike current 3D printing inks made from sawdust and a binder, this technique enables the manufacturing of objects with the look, feel, and even smell of natural wood. In fact, the process works for other greenery as well.

"It does not even need to be wood," says Rice University materials scientist Muhammad Rahman. "You can [use] any plant that has lignin and cellulose [and] deconstruct it and then mix it."

From Scientific American:

As a proof of concept, the researchers printed miniature furniture, letters of the alphabet and a honeycomb lattice[…\

Structures printed this way had mechanical and thermal properties that resembled ones made from a natural hardwood: they bent and compressed in a similar way and had comparable fire resistance, Rahman explains. "Our next goal is to increase the mechanical properties further so that it can surpass the properties of hardwood," he says. For example, certain additives could potentially make the wood more fire-resistant.