Materials from trees assembled by 3D printing – Wood tissue beyond nature limits
Journal article, 2019
Materials from trees have the potential to replace fossil based and other non-sustainable materials in everyday products, thus transforming the society back to a bioeconomy. This paper presents a 3D printing platform which mimics wood biogenesis for the assembly of wood biopolymers into wood-like hierarchical composites. The genome was substituted with G-code, the programming language which controls how the 3D printer assembles material. The rosette was replaced by the printer head for extrusion of cellulose. Instead of microtubules guiding the alignment of cellulose, the printing direction was guided by an x/y stage, thus mimicking the microfibril angle. The printed structures were locked by an enzymatic crosslinking reaction similar to what occurs in the cell wall upon lignification. Hierarchical structures characteristic for wood were designed and printed with control of density, swelling and directional strength. Accelerating the development of the 3D printing technology helps realize the circular bioeconomy where garments, packaging, furniture and entire houses are manufactured by 3D printing wood.