Just imagine yourself 3D printing a cool new prototype while the faint scent of fresh pine wafts through the air. Not only can you deodorize your home or workspace, you can try out a new wood filament that offers some obvious benefits aside from and even far more exciting than just eliminating toxic and malodorous headaches. Just launched on Indiegogo is WO-FI, the creation of two young Slovenian engineers, Rok Rudolf and Jure Hictaler.
WO-FI is a unique wood filament that Rudolf and Hictaler have been working on since September 2014. Their goals were to find a quality wood filament that had a much higher and purer percentage of wood, and with only one type of wood rather than a dubious mixture. Dubbing these ‘hybrids,’ and pointing out that one of the major downfalls is their high price — combined with lack of purity — the WO-FI team worked diligently to make an affordable new wood filament that could meet all of their requirements.
“We set our goal to make a filament that would have a high percentage of wood fibers, so we had to find a substance that would be able to bind the wood together and still be completely biodegradable — and enable the filament to be melted at 3D printing temperatures,” said Hictaler.
They also needed to make sure that the product would remain sturdy after 3D printing so they began looking at multiple biopolymers for binding the wood fibers in their filament. Unable to find anything sufficient for their uses, Rudolf and Hictaler developed their own polymers for WO-FI, putting their respective talents and expertise in chemical engineering and geology together to make a wood filament that actually is comprised of one, real wood fiber like pine, spruce, or other materials like beech at 50% of the total product. The rest of the filament is comprised of their biopolymers.
While the goal is certainly not to send workers out to cut down more trees, Rudolf and Hictaler did have the concern that so much wood is wasted and not re-used, and they could certainly make good use of it. Their first batch of filament was made with saw dust from a spruce tree, which was mixed with their special biopolymers to create WO-FI.
Completing their mission to produce a filament of higher quality originally meant to serve their own 3D printing needs, they are now working to offer the benefits of WO-FI to the world on Indigogo. The filament is fully developed as a product and the WO-FI team hopes to raise €18,000 solely for the purpose of purchasing an industrial extruder for production purposes.
Early birds receive small amounts of filaments, with choices between oak or spruce, with pledges for as little as €50 with amounts of material ascending and discounts accruing with the amount of the pledge. At €270, users receive 10g of filament. At €5,000, one “Big Fish” supporter will receive half-off of all their filament orders for the entire year, beginning as soon as WO-FI goes worldwide with sales, which the team expects to be around December of this year.
“It is a great success, and we’ve had no problems 3D printing whatever we wish,” says Rudolf. “The integrity of our 3D printed items has been strong and durable.”
WO-FI’s operating temperature range is 170-210° and also allows for color printing, unique again in that you can use this same filament to produce different colors when operating at different temperatures. Conversely, the filament is very stable regarding color when the temperature remains unwavering. The filament works with most 3D printers and is available in 1.75 mm. The product has been sent to CE for certification.
“We have the know how, the raw resources needed, and the will do go on a larger scale production,” the WO-FI teams states.
Now all they need is the support on Indiegogo.
Is this a project you are interested in helping to fund? Have you used a wood filament for 3D printing before, and if so, what are your thoughts on that material and its uses? Tell us your thoughts in the WO-FI forum over at 3DPB.com.
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