Furniture made from wood 3D Printer
Cutting down trees and processing wood is not the most efficient or environmentally friendly way to make furniture or building materials. MIT recently made a breakthrough in this field, and in the future, it will be possible to 3D Printer and grow wood directly into the shape of furniture and other objects.
Although wood is a renewable energy source, we consume it significantly faster than it grows. Deforestation has a dramatic impact on wildlife, exacerbating the effects of climate change. Since our demand for wood products is unlikely to change, our methods of obtaining wood products must also change.
Now, a team of MIT scientists has demonstrated a new technique for growing wood-like plant material in the lab, allowing properties such as weight and strength to be easily adjusted as needed.
Ashley Beckwith, lead author of the study, said, “The idea is that you can grow these plant materials in exactly the shape you need, so you don’t need to do any subtractive manufacturing after the fact, which reduces the amount of energy and waste. There’s a lot of potential to extend this and grow three-dimensional structures.”
First, the team isolated cells from the leaves of plants called Zinnia elegans. The cells were then grown in liquid medium for two days before being transferred to a thicker, gel-based medium. This stuff contains nutrients and two different plant hormones, the levels of which can be adjusted to tune the physical and mechanical properties of the material.
Next, the team 3D Printer the cell-containing gel into a specific shape, just like you would 3D Printer a plastic object. After three months of incubation in the dark, the material is dehydrated, and the final result is a custom-made object made from wood-like plant matter. For example, in one test, the team shaped the material into a model of a tree.
The team experimented with different levels of the hormone and found that lower levels resulted in a lower density material with round, open cells. At the same time, higher levels grow smaller, denser structures and are more rigid due to the growth of the organic polymer lignin. This difference can be used to make softer and lighter products, or stronger and harder products.
Ultimately, our goal is to develop the technology so that wooden items can basically be 3D Printer and grown, rather than being cut, shaped and joined from larger pieces of wood obtained from felling trees. The process may start with small wooden items, such as dowels or ornaments, and eventually progress to furniture or construction planks.