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3D Printing Progress
Posted on May 10, 2021 by  & 

Additive Manufacturing for Volume Production of Wood Parts

Desktop Metal announced the launch of Forust, a new process to sustainably produce functional end-use wood parts using its patented single pass binder jetting Additive Manufacturing technology. The Forust process upcycles waste byproducts from wood manufacturing (cellulose dust) and the paper industry (lignin) and re-materializes functional wood parts through high-speed 3D printing including digital grain throughout the part.
 
Desktop Metal's high-speed 3D printing technology offers architects, designers and manufacturers a new path to produce luxurious custom wood pieces for home decor, interiors, transportation, and architectural design with a superior environmental footprint, new geometries and quality unavailable from subtractive wood manufacturing technology. Starting today, businesses and consumers can visit the Forust website, www.forust.com, to order samples and custom wood designs, and manufacturers can engage with Forust to develop unique wood parts for their end-use products. For further information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printed Materials Market 2020-2030: COVID Edition.
 
According to William McDonough, architect, globally-recognized leader in sustainable development and design, and pioneer of the concepts of Cradle to Cradle, the Circular Economy, and the Circular Carbon Economy, "The Forust technology allows us to take something that was previously wood waste and re-materialize it into exquisitely beautiful and useful things. We are honoring the cellulose and lignin of the trees by rearticulating them into assets for present and future generations. By allowing millions of trees to remain in place in their forests, Forust is launching a highly evolved technology for the circular technosphere that supports and celebrates stewardship of the natural, regenerative, and diverse biosphere, making it not only smart, but wise. This is a historic and material opportunity in the history of design and the making of things that reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote, 'Any technology that is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.' As a lover of wood and forests, I find Forust indistinguishable from magic. The 3D printing of wood using waste natural materials is a gamechanger. We have only begun to explore its beneficial potentials, but it is clear they are immense."
 
 
Transforming a Subtractive Industry That Began with Trees into an Additive Industry That Begins with Upcycled Wood Byproducts
Forust began with a vision to transform wood byproducts, including sawdust and lignin, into finished wood products, combining both design and functionality. Led by industry veteran and ceramics 3D printing pioneer, Andrew Jeffery, who previously served as President of Boston Ceramics who said "The inspiration for Forust was to begin with sawdust and end with forests," said Jeffery. "Our process is based on extensive research conducted over the past decade in the field of hardwood lumber, leading to complex and elegant finished structures. Through advanced CAD software, proprietary materials and Desktop Metal binder jetting mass production platforms, we can now manufacture beautiful, functional and innovative wood products for a variety of architectural, interior, and home goods applications from upcycled wood byproducts."
 
Building a Greener Future with Additive Manufacturing for Wood
At the core of this innovation is the Forust process, which combines two waste streams from traditional wood production, sawdust and lignin, to sustainably produce isotropic, high-strength wood parts. Depending on the size of the parts, Forust can manufacture wood products using either the Shop System or a custom version of the new RAM 336TM 3D printer, which supports prints up to two cubic meters in volume at speeds in excess of 100 liters of parts per hour. During the printing process, layers of specially treated sawdust are spread and selectively joined by a non-toxic and biodegradable binder. Digital grain is printed on every layer and parts can then be sanded, stained, polished, dyed, coated and refinished in the same manner as traditionally manufactured wood components.
 
 
"Forust offers nearly unlimited design flexibility," said Jeffery. "From exotic grain structures to grainless wood, we can digitally reproduce wood textures and a myriad of grain types. And, because they are made from a wood and bioresin compound, these parts exhibit the functionality and stiffness in line with conventional wood. Our finished pieces are indistinguishable from traditionally manufactured wood products you would find in a store. The additive manufacturing process literally becomes invisible."
 
Forust is set to revolutionize volume production of wood parts through a completely digital manufacturing process:
  • Because Forust produces parts additively layer by layer without the need for supports, designers have the freedom to create complex features and iconic designs that would be difficult or impossible to produce with traditional woodworking methods.
  • Unlike particle board or laminate, Forust produces a wooden part with a digital grain that flows throughout the entire part that can be sanded and refinished. Software has the ability to digitally reproduce nearly any wood grain, including rosewood, ash, zebrano, ebony and mahogany, among others. Parts will also support a variety of wood stains at launch, including natural, oak, ash, and walnut.
  • Forust's process and materials are designed to offer easy access to an end-to-end sustainable manufacturing solution. Manufacturers and designers can submit their own custom designs for printing, order samples or pursue high-volume partnerships to produce custom, 3D printed wood pieces in volume for use in their products. Additive manufacturing enables digital on-demand production, which minimizes material waste, on-the-shelf inventory, and shipping pollution while offering hand-crafted quality at an accessible price.
 
 
"We want to make it easy for designers to explore complex new geometries for a wide variety of products and applications using an age-old material," said Jeffery. "At the end of the wood product's life, we would like to see customers have two choices - dispose of it and it will biodegrade over time as any wood product would, or shred it and repurpose the material into future parts through Forust. Our vision is a true circular manufacturing process."
 
Unlimited Design Applications for Wood Parts, Including Exclusive Collection by Designer Yves Béhar
Forust can create functional parts for virtually any wood application with a greatly improved environmental footprint than conventional manufacturing.
 
Source and top image: Desktop Metal
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