Researchers use industrial wood-waste to make FDM/FFF wooden filament

The WPC filament made with the open source Recyclebot.  Image via Forest Products Society

Scientists at Michigan Technology University in Houghton have successfully created 3D printable wood filaments from furniture wood waste.

The success was revealed in a research report co-authored by open source champ Joshua Pearce. The paper investigated the possibility of converting furniture waste into wood filaments to reduce the environmental impact of wood waste.

The wood filament was made using only open source software and hardware.

The WPC filament made with the open source Recyclebot. Image via Forest Products Society

Manufacture of wood filaments from waste

According to the paper, the furniture industry in Michigan alone produces more than 150 tons of wood waste every day.

In a four-step process, the scientists demonstrated the possibility of producing wood filaments with a combination of wood waste and PLA plastic in 3D printing. The mixture of these two materials is better known as wood-plastic composite (WPC).

In the first step, wood waste was acquired from various furniture manufacturers in Michigan. The waste contained solid boards and sawdust made from MDF, LDF and melamine.

These solid slabs and sawdust were reduced to microscale for the production of WPC filaments. The waste material was hammer milled, ground in a wood chopper, and sieved using a vibratory ventilator using an 80 micron mesh screen.

At the end of this process, the wood waste was in a powder state with a granular component of cereal flour. The material was now referred to as “waste wood powder”.

This entire process was necessary to make the wood mixable with PLA.

The next step was to make PLA to mix with the waste wood powder. PLA pellets were heated to 210 ° C until they became stirrable. The wood powder was added to the molten PLA mixture at varying wood-PLA weight percentages (wt%) between 10 wt% -40 wt% wood waste powder.

As soon as the desired mixing quantity and quality was achieved, the material was left to cool.

The solidified material was put back into the wood chopper to prepare the open source Recyclebot, a plastic extruder for filament production.

The filament produced had a thickness of 1.65 mm and a thinner diameter than the standard 3-D filament available on the market, ie 1.75 mm.

A doorknob with the wooden thread.  Image via Forest Products SocietyA door knob printed with the wooden thread. Image via Forest Products Society

3D printing with open source wood filament

The wood filament was tested by making various items such as a wooden cube, a door knob, and a drawer handle. Due to the mechanical properties of the wood thread, adjustments were made to the Delta RepRap and Re: 3D Gigabot v. 3D printers used in the study. GB2 made. The changes included modifying the extruder and controlling the printing speed.

Printing wood to an ideal temperature is also an important factor as high temperatures can char the wood and clog the nozzle. In this case the wood filament was printed at 185 ° C.

The researchers showed that it is convenient to make wood filaments from waste wood from furniture. However, you raised important points for future studies. This included the economic and environmental impact, details of mechanical properties and the possibility of industrial scale production.

The paper concluded: “This study has shown a technically feasible method for upcycling wood waste from furniture into usable 3D printed parts for the furniture industry. By mixing PLA pellets and recycled wood waste material, filament with a diameter size of 1.65 ± 0.10 mm was made and used for printing a small variety of test parts. This method developed in the laboratory can be adapted to the requirements of the industry, as the process steps are straightforward. Small batches of 40 wt% wood were made but showed reduced repeatability, while batches of 30 wt% wood with ease of use showed the most promise. “

The research paper covered in this article is titled Wood Furniture Waste Based Recycled 3D Printing Filament. It is co-authored by Adam M. Pringle, Mark Rudnicki and Joshua Pearce.

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The picture shown shows the wood filament produced in the study. Image via Forest Products Society

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