3D printing of rare wood made from wood waste instead could be the saviour of endangered forests!
Trafficking of endangered species is a plague that has been destroying our planet. From elephant ivory to shark fins, the most trafficked of all is actually the rosewood tree.
This famous wood is known for its quality but with the increasing advancements of 3D printing, this rare wood might be saved.
A team of designers at San Jose State University came up with the idea to save the tree species with 3D printing. With only scraps from wasted rosewood, these prints mimic the properties of the any kind of prized wood.
How come rosewood is so rare?
Due to a huge demand for rosewood products, there are unsustainable harvesting practices. Over exploitation has left this species extremely vulnerable.
Rosewood is often used for furniture and musical instruments. Additionally, its global revenue is over $90 billion!
How could 3D printing of rare trees save endangered species?
Trees are essentially made of two things; cellulose and lignin. All 3D printing does is re-construct what furniture makers work to deconstruct, explains CEO of Desktop Metal, Ric Fulop.
By Injecting a non-toxic binding agent with lignin onto layers of sawdust which results in mock-wood that can be sanded and refinished like normal timber.
Fast Company says that they can create incredibly complex geometric shapes and patterns onto furniture. By printing with grain in the woods finished form will speed up the process which normally takes weeks to do by hand.
In the U.S., sawdust and lignin are considered waste products in the lumber industry. Thus resulting in millions of tons per year are thrown out.
However, with 3D printing, these products are recycled into replica luxury hardwoods.
Furthermore, this process changes the entire furniture industry. Due to the fact that overtime the material wear out, it can be recycled over and over again with 3D printing.
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