Materials are what make the manufacturing world go round, and when it comes to 3D printing as a means of manufacturing, this certainly couldn’t be any closer to the truth. As more and more materials become available for designers to utilize, the more incredible the creations will be that we see come out of these 3D printers.
Today, you can add yet another material to the list of possibilities, as Materialise has just announced the launch of their selective laser sintered wood. The new wood material is made up of a brown, very fine, granular powder which has been derived from wood chips. When printed with, objects come off of the print bed with a slightly porous, sandy, granular look to them.
“Wood is perfect for complex models, as it allows for interlocking and moving parts,” explains Fabian Backer, Community Manager for i.materialise. “Typically, these are models you put on your desk or on a shelf such as architectural scale models, figurines and awards. The technique used to print wood gives you lots of design freedom, meaning you can create an object that cannot be realized with traditional woodworking methods.”
The release of this new material is currently in a beta phase as the company wants to fine tune the production and print process. They will rely heavily on customer feedback as well as experimentation, so they are looking for individuals to provide designs to test the material with. In doing so, they have launched their Wood Challenge asking designers to submit their creations to be printed in wood.
From the entries, five winners will be chosen to get their designs 3D printed and then shipped to them. This challenge will run from now until June 14, and it is open to all designers, regardless of age. It should be interesting to see all of the unique new products that will come to fruition, made from wood. The material can be used to print moving parts as a single print, just like with other SLS printed materials. At the same time though, the wood material has lower strength properties when compared to these other materials out there. Because of this, Materialise recommends using thicker walls when designing a product. They suggest that walls be at least 3mm thick.
What do you think about this new material from Materialise? Will you be utilizing it in the future? Discuss in the Selective Laser Sintered Wood forum thread on 3DPB.com.