Desktop Metal Redefines Woodworking With New 3D Wood Printing Technology


The OEM Desktop Metal industrial 3D printer has launched its subsidiary Forust, a brand focused on 3D printing of functional end-use wooden parts by binder jet.

The Forust process works by recovering waste by-products from the wood and paper industries (sawdust and lignin). By mixing these by-products with a special bio-epoxy resin composite, the company can create durable 3D printing materials compatible with Desktop Metal’s binder jet technology.

With this launch, Desktop Metal now offers architects, designers and manufacturers a new path to the production of custom wood parts, whether for interior design or luxury architectural applications. While it might seem like a late April joke, customers can already visit the Forust store page to order one of the company’s ready-made, 3D-printed consumer home items. The first batch of products is offered as part of an exclusive collection by Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar.

Renowned architect and sustainability leader William McDonough said: “Forust technology allows us to take something that was previously waste wood and re-materialize it into extremely beautiful and useful things. We honor the cellulose and lignin of trees by re-articulating them into active ingredients for present and future generations. By allowing millions of trees to stay put in their forests, Forust is launching highly advanced technology for the circular technosphere.

Some wooden products from the Vigne collection by Yves Béhar. Photo via Forust.

Disrupting the art of woodworking

Forust was born with the aim of recycling wood waste into usable end-use products. Using sawdust and lignin as the raw material for 3D printing, the company is able to sustainably mass-produce high strength isotropic wood parts on Desktop Metal‘s workshop system. . The printing process sees layers of the specially treated raw material distributed in a manufacturing chamber, at which point the material is selectively fused using a non-toxic, biodegradable binder.

The technology even lends itself to integrated grain structures, which means that the end products are indistinguishable from conventional joinery parts. Forust’s 3D printed parts support a wide variety of wood grains at launch, including rosewood, ash, zebrano, ebony, and mahogany. The parts also support a range of wood stains such as natural, oak, ash and walnut.

Andrew Jeffery, CEO of Forust, adds: “Forust offers almost limitless design flexibility. From exotic grain structures to grainless wood, we can digitally replicate wood textures and a myriad of grain types. And, because they are made from a compound of wood and bioresin, these parts exhibit functionality and rigidity in line with conventional wood.

Wooden products <a class=3D printed by Forust. Photo via Forust.” class=”wp-image-189756″ data-lazy-srcset=”×576.png 1024w,×864.png 1536w,×343.png 610w,×433.png 770w,×113.png 200w,×281.png 500w, 2000w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” data-lazy-src=”×576.png”/>
Wooden products 3D printed by Forust. Photo via Forust.

A testimony of the circular economy

Forust is designed to be an end-to-end service, which means designers and manufacturers can submit their own custom part geometries for 3D printing. It can be for a single prototype, or it can be for a long term, high volume project – the warehouse system does it all. Once construction is complete, customers can also choose to recycle their parts and reuse the material for the next project.

“We want to make it easy for designers to explore new, complex geometries for a wide variety of products and applications using old material,” says Jeffery. “At the end of the wood product’s life, customers will have two choices: dispose of it and it will biodegrade over time like any wood product would, or shred it and reuse the material in future. parts via Forust. Our vision is a true circular manufacturing process.

Wooden propellers 3D printed using Desktop Metal's binder jet technology.  Photo via Forust.
Wooden propellers 3D printed using Desktop Metal’s binder jet technology. Photo via Forust.

While Desktop Metal may be the first to bring the technology to market on a large scale, 3D printing on wood has certainly made its way into academia already. Earlier this year, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed special laboratory-grown wood cells that could form the basis of a new, more durable 3D-printable biomaterial. While the research is still in its infancy, the team believe it could potentially be deployed as a means of 3D printing environmentally friendly furniture.

Elsewhere, at the University of Friborg (UCF), researchers have already developed their own environmentally friendly wood-based 3D printing material. Specifically, the team combined lignin with cellulose beads to create a new biosynthetic polymer.

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The image shown shows wood products 3D printed by Forust. Photo via Forust.

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