Can 3D Printers Print Wood?

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Can 3D printers replace trees

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How to Get Started with a 3D Printer

That may be what some people will think when they hear that since 2012 3D printers have been able to print wood. But 3D printers have a long way to go if you think they will ever replace trees and make real wood that looks, feels and has the texture of real lumber.

To find out what type of wood 3D printers can print, just continue to read our article.. it explores the topic so you have no misconceptions as to what 3D printers can do in this area of 21st century printing

Do 3D printers print wood

Everyone would like to think so but in reality, 3D printers are not printing actual wood that would be mistaken for the materials that come from live trees. What these devices do is print using a wood filament.

This filament is made up of about 70% PLA and 30% wood chips made into a paste like normal plastic and biological filaments would be. In the early stages, sawdust was used instead of wood chips but the end result was looking more like cardboard than wood.

The drawback to this combination is that the wood chips are actually the weakest link in the chain and the end result is very delicate and fragile. There are a lot of broken pieces until you finally get success.

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How 3D printers print wood

There are several steps in the printing chain that need to be followed if you want to make a good product that looks like wood and can have moving parts.

StepActionDescription
 1.Wood chipsTo make a good wood print you need one of the following- bamboo, birch, cedar, cork, ebony, olive, pine, and even coconut. Be careful some manufacturers make their product out of wood coloring and not real wood chips
 2.Temperature settingWhile you go according to the type of wood filament you are using, the average temperatures for printing wood are between 170 to 220 degrees C. or 375 to 475 degrees F approx.
 3.Build plate (optional)Should be heated and have temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees C or 130 to 175 degrees F approx. Have an adhesive surface on the bed plate
 4.Additional settings Be ready to make adjustments to your print as you go. To prevent clogging, increase your printing speed. Play this by hear and use good judgment
5.Post processing This is the step that is done when the print is completed. Add your color, sand and do other decorative steps

Tips for 3D printing of wood

You get to be an expert when you learn the tips, tricks and secrets that are a part of the wood printing aspect of 3D printing. Here are some tips to help you get started on the right foot:

  1. Be creative- experiment with different temperatures to produce different colors and finishes
  2. A little burning is okay- the high temperature on the extruder will burn the wood chips creating a darker finish
  3. Don’t go too far- caution is needed with setting the temperature. Go too high and you run the risk of starting a fire or damage the print
  4. Stop clogging- to do this your nozzle should be at least 0.4 mm in size and always keep the nozzle clean
  5. Stop the moving- on your bed plate you should have glue, painter’s tape, a glass plate or PEI sheets. The surface should be sticky so your print does not slide around on you
  6. Stop oozing and stringing- this may happen so you need to experiment with your slicer settings to get the filament to come out right
  7. Play with the settings- adjust layer number or increase the speed to prevent clogging, check the combining button, (or similar buttons) to recalculate nozzle movement, coasting is on some nozzle settings and it can reduce pressure on the nozzle
  8. Sanding is easy- it is just like sanding real wood and start with a rougher grit moving to a finer one to get that finished look
  9. Staining is good- you are not stuck with painting to decorate your print. You can use different stains to [produce some real good looks
  10. Added touches- try using a laser machine, wood burning set or even a soldering iron to create unique looks

Types of wood filaments you can use easily

This is another good aspect of printing with wood filament. You get a lot of choice in which filament you can use to create your print. Here are some of those options available right now:

  1. ColorFab makes woodfill and corkfill. They also have a tips and tricks section for each option helping you get the best results possible
  2. Fillamentum has timberfill which comes in four different wood composites. The good news is that they are 100% biodegradable when placed in water and other substances. Do not use these filaments for food printing. Recommended settings for each of the four options are provided by the company for you
  3. FormFutura has 7 different wood filament options at your disposal. Each one comes with 40% of wood chips not the standard 30%. your wood options are birch, cedar, coconut, ebony, olive, pine and willow
  4. Polymaker has polywood but this is not made with real wood parts. It is a wood like option for those people who do not want their print to be fragile and delicate.

Some final words

3printing is conquering a lot of worlds with the aid of technology. Printing with wood parts makes your print more realistic and provides many decorative options. You handle the material just like you would with real wood items so no extra training is required.

The only problem is that the wood chips or particles are the weakest part of the print chain. You can easily start a fire or damage the print if you are not careful and set your heat settings too high.

Other than that, you should be able to produce great works of art that will astound your friends and family.

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