Is There a Place for 3D Wood Printing in Woodworking? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 4Likes
  • 1 Post By WoodworkingTalk
  • 1 Post By GeorgeC
  • 1 Post By Robson Valley
  • 1 Post By Brian(J)
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
Administrator
 
WoodworkingTalk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 59
View WoodworkingTalk's Photo Album My Photos
Is There a Place for 3D Wood Printing in Woodworking?



The popularity of 3D printing continues to grow, with companies competing to create printers capable of making more and more professional-looking prints with very little margin of error. While most of the popular 3D printers use plastics, there are a wide variety of materials that these printers can use. If you search, you can find 3D printers that print using clay, liquid resins, metal, pancakes and even wood. That’s right… 3D wood printing is officially an option.

If you’ve never heard of 3D wood printing, it’s a bit different than the plastic 3D printing you may have seen. Instead of using a long filament, 3D wood printers use a powdered wood mixture and a laser to create 3D objects. The end result has a sand-like texture, but is technically made of wood. The question is, does 3D wood printing have any place in woodworking?

Lasers making wood

If the concept of 3D wood printing sounds strange to you, here’s a little more information on how it works. Similar to metal printing, wood printing uses a process known as “laser sinistering” in which a laser beam traces out the layers of a computer-generated model in the powdered print medium. The heat of the laser actually melts particles of powder together (yes, you’re melting wood) to form the hardened end result. As strange as it might seem, the end result is pretty strong; metal parts made using this technique are used in jet engines and other high-stress environments.

Model complexity

One good thing about 3D wood printing is that it allows you to create objects out of wood that you’d never be able to using other woodworking methods. You can print complex models that are hollow inside, and even interlocking pieces that feature moving parts. This means that in addition to complex designs with fine details, you could use 3D printed wood to make built-in joints or functional hinges that don’t have to be attached with screws or other equipment.

Wood models

Just about anything can be printed out of wood, so long as there’s a 3D model created of it first. To prevent warping and other problems, most models printed using laser sinistering are hollow. As a result, 3D-printed wood models usually need one or more holes in them that you can use to get the excess wood powder out of the finished model. Without the drainage, you’ll end up with a model that has a solid outer shell that’s filled with the wood powder that the model was printed from. If you like the sound of that then you can forego the holes, though given that it’s powder you won’t add much in the way of weight or density to the final model.

Is it useful?

As 3D printing has become more consumer friendly, the question arises as to how useful it really is. Some people get a lot of practical use out of 3D printers, while others make a few random models and don’t do much with it beyond that. Printing with wood is no different; you could create models that are useful and serve a real purpose, or you could create models for the sheer novelty of printing something out of wood. Some might look down on the latter, but there really isn’t anything wrong with it so long as you’re happy with the end result. After all, how many woodworkers have made something random out of wood just because they felt like making something?

Is it really woodworking?

There are going to be some woodworkers who are really put off by the thought of 3D wood printing. While items printed in this manner are technically wood, some purists would argue that it isn’t “woodworking”… after all, you aren’t actually working with the wood at all. Instead, these printers just use a laser to melt together powdered sawdust to create something that has a different look and texture than any wood you’ve ever worked with. For people looking at it from this point of view, there will likely never be a place for 3D wood printing in woodworking.

Others might see things differently, however. While woodworking is definitely used to create, some also use woodworking as a way to explore what is possible with wood. For these woodworkers, a 3D wood printer could be just another tool for creating with wood. A number of woodworking projects make use of things other than wood, so it’s really not that much of a stretch to include wood that’s “assembled” instead of carved or cut under the umbrella of woodworking. Which way you see it is up to you, and your viewpoint will determine whether or not 3D wood printing could ever have a place in your woodworking toolbox.
44260 likes this.

Follow WoodworkingTalk.com on Facebook!
https://www.facebook.com/woodworkingtalk
WoodworkingTalk is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 10:52 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Florida Panhandle
Posts: 9,343
View GeorgeC's Photo Album My Photos
"While items printed in this manner are technically wood, some purists would argue that it isn’t “woodworking”… after all, you aren’t actually working with the wood at all. Instead, these printers just use a laser to melt together powdered sawdust to create something that has a different look and texture than any wood you’ve ever worked with. For people looking at it from this point of view, there will likely never be a place for 3D wood printing in woodworking."

I am most definitely in this camp. While some may say that the end product is "technically wood" I would differ. If wood sawdust has been melted to the point that it can be used like a liquid it is no longer "wood." Do you call paper wood? No, the wood that was used to manufacturer paper was chemically changed and is now paper.

This list could be carried on and on.

George
DarronS likes this.
GeorgeC is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to GeorgeC For This Useful Post:
Jig_saw (05-10-2016)
post #3 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 10:56 AM
Senior Member
 
Jig_saw's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 627
View Jig_saw's Photo Album My Photos
I agree with George. It is not woodworking, just 3-D printing. To work wood you must have wood, not pulp, or melted sawdust.

Keep thy axe sharp.
Jig_saw is offline  
 
post #4 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 10:57 AM
Senior Member
 
johnep34's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: East Anglia UK
Posts: 443
View johnep34's Photo Album My Photos
Presume it is the resin content that acts like a glue. The acid test for me would be to print a propeller blade.
johnep
johnep34 is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 11:12 AM
Senior Member
 
Jig_saw's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 627
View Jig_saw's Photo Album My Photos
Printed 'wood' may look like wood, but it will not have the natural strength of wood which is provided by the fibers. By doing printing the fibers are completely destroyed and you don't have any grain direction. Bad for structural strength.


I will not fly in a plane which has a 3-D printed propeller. :)

Keep thy axe sharp.
Jig_saw is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 12:03 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: McBride, BC
Posts: 2,176
View Robson Valley's Photo Album My Photos
3D printed sawdust is exactly that. Is it not a fact that MDF is 3D printed wood fiber?
Somehow, I don't imagine the product looking like real wood of any species.

Still, 3D printing is the technique, not "wood-working," and the feedstock could be hamburger.

I need to see examples to decide if that's what I want to see in an application.
Robson Valley is online now  
post #7 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 12:05 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: McBride, BC
Posts: 2,176
View Robson Valley's Photo Album My Photos
By the way, the correct technical term is "laser sintering."
Robson Valley is online now  
post #8 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 01:09 PM
Administrator
 
Cricket's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Texas
Posts: 922
View Cricket's Photo Album My Photos
I have been watching some videos on this.



"Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours."
Cricket is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 01:53 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: McBride, BC
Posts: 2,176
View Robson Valley's Photo Album My Photos
Those are interesting, thanks. Wannabe woodworking with hand skills supplanted by programming code.
Just as digital painting is a different technique, I can let this go as just another stall in the barn.
Cricket likes this.
Robson Valley is online now  
post #10 of 13 Old 05-10-2016, 10:34 PM
World's Tallest Midget
 
Mort's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 795
View Mort's Photo Album My Photos
I'm not a fan of CNCs or 3D printing on the whole. They have their place, but not in my world.

I hate signatures.
Mort is online now  
post #11 of 13 Old 05-11-2016, 06:07 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Chitown cornfields
Posts: 1,110
View aardvark's Photo Album My Photos
Well, personally I agree this isn't woodworking.
It's a factory like stamped out method. Virtually hands off.
Only skill set is setting up the equipment.

Nah, I don't care for it.
aardvark is offline  
post #12 of 13 Old 06-08-2016, 08:41 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 183
View Brian(J)'s Photo Album My Photos
Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodworkingTalk View Post
The question is, does 3D wood printing have any place in woodworking?

While woodworking is definitely used to create, some also use woodworking as a way to explore what is possible with wood. For these woodworkers, a 3D wood printer could be just another tool for creating with wood. A number of woodworking projects make use of things other than wood, so it’s really not that much of a stretch to include wood that’s “assembled” instead of carved or cut under the umbrella of woodworking. Which way you see it is up to you, and your viewpoint will determine whether or not 3D wood printing could ever have a place in your woodworking toolbox.
Your question "Is There a Place for 3D Wood Printing in Woodworking?" for me is 'Yes, but I haven't needed it yet'. Because sooner or later I will realize that to make something I'll need a part or a tool or template that is best 3D printed.
I design a lot (as do my 3 full time designers) and I make as many of the prototypes as I can, often in wood but also in aluminum, the copper metals like brass and bronze, plastics, leather, glass, whatever. The best woodworking power tool I own is a milling machine, and I cut aluminum all the time with a (sliding) table saw. Waterjet cutting bronze parts to inlay into wood may not be woodworking, but the making sure is fun.

A related tool I think is underused is the laser. I can draw up a tool or jig or part while flying to a far-away site meeting, email it to Ponoko when I arrive there, and 10 days later the cut parts show up at home. This can speed up a project. An example would be my 90 degree jigs which I use all the time, I could have made them myself but I had other things to build. I'll attach an image.

Another laser cutting example is a very complex jewelry box I have in mind, a sort of complicated exoskeleton through which you'll be able to see the back, sides, and workings of the structure and drawers, etc. After I draw it I'll send the file off and have it burned out of foamcore or bamboo or something so I can see it in full size, see the mistakes and the conflicts, see where it just doesn't look right. Once I get it corrected I'll be able to use the laser cut pieces for templates, router bit guides, whatever is needed.
I think it is a mistake to close yourself off from any technology that might give you satisfaction.
Also, an image of a dining table. It's steel, resin, bronze, and walnut. Is it woodworking or metalworking? Does it matter?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	jigonsaw.jpg
Views:	93
Size:	99.5 KB
ID:	242753  

Click image for larger version

Name:	tablecornerccw.jpg
Views:	96
Size:	93.9 KB
ID:	242793  

Cricket likes this.
Brian(J) is offline  
post #13 of 13 Old 06-30-2016, 10:49 AM
Senior Member
 
Bob in St. Louis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 318
View Bob in St. Louis's Photo Album My Photos
I think it's neat, but I'm into gizmos like this. Having one won't instantly earn you the title of "woodworker", but being a woodworker already and owning one won't make you less of one either.

Mark my words..... Someday, somebody, will start a thread and title it, "What wood is this", and it'll be something from a 3D printer. That will be funny.
Bob in St. Louis is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pros and Cons of Woodworking with Manual Tools WoodworkingTalk Featured Topics 81 03-20-2016 05:55 AM
Comparing Wood Sealants Side-By-Side WoodworkingTalk Featured Topics 8 02-15-2016 02:13 PM
Basic Techniques Wood Engraving purnomoadi General Woodworking Discussion 0 11-16-2015 02:43 PM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome