Design Innovation and Sustainability Come Together for the Future of Wood Design

“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,”

William McDonough, Architect, Globally recognized leader in Sustainable Development and Design

Desktop Metal, a 3D printing technology supplier, has developed a novel method to sustainably produce functional end-use wood parts using single-pass jetting technology. The company’s Forust process employs waste by-products from wood manufacturing (cellulose dust) and the paper industry (lignin) and creates functional wood products that have wood-like digital grain throughout.

According to the company, the parts manufactured by this process are not only strong but also aesthetically appealing. During the 3D printing process, layers of treated sawdust are selectively coupled with a non-toxic and biodegradable binder (made from lignin). Digital grain is printed on every layer, and the finished parts can be sanded, stained, polished, dyed, coated–just like traditionally made wood components. 

Unlike particleboard or laminate, Forust manufactures a wooden part with a digital grain that flows throughout the entire part. The software has the ability to digitally reproduce nearly any wood grain, including rosewood, ash, Zebrano, ebony, and mahogany, among others. “Forust offers nearly unlimited design flexibility. From exotic grain structures to grainless wood, we can digitally reproduce wood textures and a myriad of grain types,” explains industry veteran and ceramics 3D printing pioneer, Andrew Jeffery.

Since Forust produces parts additively layer by layer, designers have the freedom to generate composite features and unique designs that would be tricky or impossible to produce with conventional woodworking methods. Applications for the 3D wood printing process include:

  • Architectural accents, including unique decorative panels, custom wood inlays and panels, tiles, hardware and more.
  • Luxury interior components in a wide range of finishes and materials, including rare and exotic grain structures, for vehicles, yachts and high-end homes;
  • Furniture pieces, including cabinetry doors, chairs, accents, tables and designs with 3D geometry previously difficult or impossible to manufacture through conventional woodworking methods; and
  • Home goods products ranging from flower pots, bowls and picture frames, to textured blocks, bathroom accessories, desk accessories, sculptures, tiles and more.