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Rice University researchers develop 3D printed wood

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Rice University researchers develop 3D printed wood
Muhammad Rahman (center), an assistant research professor of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice and his lab/Source: Rice University (Gustavo Raskosky)

Rice University researchers have developed the ability to create sustainable 3D printed wood structures using additive-free, water-based ink derived from lignin and cellulose, the fundamental building blocks of wood. The ink can be used to create architecturally intricate wood structures using a 3D printing technique called direct ink writing.

The implications are far-reaching, with the potential to revolutionise industries like furniture and construction.

Researchers develop 3D Printed Wood

According to lead co-authors M.S.H Thakur and Chen Shi, the university’s research, which was recently published in the journal Science Advances, focused on optimising the ink composition by adjusting the ratio of lignin, cellulose nanofibers, and nanocrystals while maintaining the natural lignin-cellulose balance.

“The ability to create a wood structure directly from its own natural components sets the stage for a more eco-friendly and innovative future. It heralds a new era of sustainable 3D-printed wood construction.”

– Muhammad Rahman, an assistant research professor of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University

According to Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and Professor and Chair of Materials Science and Nanoengineering, “Unlike previous attempts, this method exclusively uses nanoscale wood components for 3D printing, marking a significant advancement in the field.”

Although lignin is one of the most abundant biopolymers on the planet, it is the least valued product in industry, according to Amit Naskar, a project collaborator and senior research and development staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

After printing, comprehensive analyses were performed to evaluate the surface and internal structures of the 3D printed wood, comparing it to natural wood counterparts. The payoff’s texture, scent, and strength were all very similar to that of natural wood.

Mechanical tests were also performed to evaluate compressive and bending strengths, with promising results that outperformed those of natural balsa wood.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing. Visit our Global News page for more updates on Global 3D Printing News. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow us on Google News.

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Abhimanyu Chavan is the founder of Manufactur3D Magazine. He writes on Additive Manufacturing technology, interviews industry leaders, shares industry insights, and expresses his thoughts on the latest developments in the industry. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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