Plastic Wood

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

Plastic Wood

One of my lines of thinking about 3d printing is that it isn’t about plastic, or not strictly about plastic. Desktop machines, now, mostly print in plastic, but the variety of materials with which we can print is surely going to expand. Already big industrial machines exists for printing in metal, there is of course the 3d printing in chocolate thing, and perhaps most interesting, 3d printing biological material. But plastic is important here, not because we will only print in plastic, rather it seems to me that one of the conceptual shifts of 3d printing is starting to treat all material as plastic. Plastic in the adjective sense not the noun sense. The material anything is made of is flexible, recyclable, reuseable, moldable into a variety of shapes.

This is a long way of saying that I acquired some laywood the other day and started printing with it. Some folks have been really sucessful in getting high quality prints using laywoo. Printing off stuff whose finsihed product looks and feels like wood. Yes printing in wood. Wood seems to me even more odd a substance to print in than say metal, because of its organic nature. But then in another sense I guess it isn’t that strange, for 3d printing is a lot about “growing” objects, additive manufacturing, versus taking a chunk of raw material and carving it down, subtractive manufacutring.

Anyway this is my first “wood” print. It took me longer to get it configured than plastic, and to me it feels more like particle board or MDF than say hardwood. But it definitely has a “woody” feel to it, much different than the plastic. Laywood isn’t all wood though it is actually a composite of PLA and sawdust, which probably explains why it feels like MDF.

Wooden Box

The box is small, but you can sand it as if it is wood, and it certainly smells like wood while it is printing, or while you are sanding. I think you could also finish it with something like Danish Oil as long as whatever you were using wouldn’t eat away at the plastic.