Researchers demonstrated a new process that makes wood stronger than steel. According to the University of Maryland mechanical engineers, their novel process could lead to a greener alternative to metal in automobiles, airplanes, or buildings. “This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable," says researcher Liangbing Hu. "It’s also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.” From the University of Maryland:
The team’s process begins by removing the wood’s lignin, the part of the wood that makes it both rigid and brown in color. Then it is compressed under mild heat, at about 150 F. This causes the cellulose fibers to become very tightly packed. Any defects like holes or knots are crushed together. The treatment process was extended a little further with a coat of paint.
The scientists found that the wood’s fibers are pressed together so tightly that they can form strong hydrogen bonds, like a crowd of people who can’t budge – who are also holding hands. The compression makes the wood five times thinner than its original size.
The team tested their new wood material and natural wood by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through the natural wood. The fully treated wood stopped the projectile partway through.
More: "Crushed wood is stronger than steel" (Nature)
A tricked out Japanese wooden keyboard goes for $1400. Cheap ones are just $40. Linus tests if it's worth the additional money.
Spoilers: it's not worth it. He says, "I can't be-leaf how much I paid for this thing. I feel like a total sap."
London's Victoria and Albert Museum recently posted a 7-minute assembly of footage from plywood manufacturing "then and now." The result, aided by some nice sleazy electronica, is a mesmerizing adventure in composite laminates. Read the rest
Oree makes wooden computer peripherals, and not just the usual keyboard and iPhone cases: also offered are matching touchpads (with optional numpad engraving) and "pebbles"--a gadget that combines a speaker and a wireless phone charger. Everything's offered in maple and walnut, with various engraving options.
The keyboard alone isn't unreasonable at $150, but a set seems terribly expensive: you're looking at $500 shipped! Read the rest
My friend Scott Albrecht, a Brooklyn-based artist and designer who creates fantastic typographical illustrations and hand-crafted, puzzle-like wood sculptures, has a show of remarkable new works opening on Saturday (11/19) at Shepard Fairey's Subliminal Projects gallery in Los Angeles.
"(Scott's) abstraction and deconstruction of type forms combined with his sophisticated color theory and surface treatments yield artworks that are immediate, yet command a deeper and closer look," Shepard says.
The exhibition, titled "New Translations," runs until January 7. Below is a preview of the show. Valley Cruise Press has also published a hardcover, full color book of Scott's work, available here. From the gallery:
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The works are largely based in typography but have their legibility masked in a variety of techniques; bold color-blocking, varying depths, non-uniform grids, or a lack of spacing between words. This manipulation can make the work appear pattern-based at first glance; however, on further evaluation the viewer discovers there is no repetition. While his works are constructed from a literary idea, Albrecht's approach is mainly visual. In a series of new pieces for the exhibit, this process is underscored when he overlays two words on top of one another, and in some instances reverses the order of the characters. The end result renders the characters illegible with the exception of small moments or clues from the two words, visually presenting two ideas that are at odds with each other, hindering any idea from manifesting.
Albrecht's woodworks are the result of an extensive process that starts with a hand-rendered drawing and requires hours of precision production work.
Scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park, have developed see-through wood by removing the material that gives wood its yellowish color and then injecting the wood with epoxy to strengthen it.
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The "invisible" wood -- as Dr. Liangbing Hu of the University's Department of Material Science and Engineering describes it -- is sturdier than traditional wood, and can be used in place of less environmentally friendly materials, such as plastics.
Above: a stump for sale for $98 at Design Republic. Below: a video about an artisanal firewood maker. It doesn't really matter that one is real and which one is a parody.