Orlab, the academic branch of architects Orproject, has developed a method for the large-scale 3D-printing of 100% wood and wood products. The fully biodegradable material has been used by the research team to construct Stamm, an architectural column of 2m height.
The sustainable material consists of 60 – 80% untreated wood fibers. Those are connected by binders that are made of cellulose, which likewise is a wood product. This material is therefore fully renewable, biodegradable, and consumes little energy in its production. The resulting lightweight products can be described as wood foams with significant strength in both compression and tension. Orlab uses an industrial robot with custom extruder to 3D-print the material.
To test the novel production process, the research team around Orlab manager Christoph Klemmt designed the project Stamm, an architectural column. In nature, all organisms grow through processes of cell division, as do the plants and trees that produce wood and cellulose. The team therefore programmed an algorithm to computationally simulate growth by cell division, as a design tool to grow geometries the way they develop naturally. This was used to generate a geometry resembling a tree trunk, which was recreated out of wood by the 3D-printing process.
Principal Investigator: Christoph Klemmt
Project Team: Kailey Akins, Marcel Barts, Josep Campoy Valdez, Meghan Glass, Yuka Imada, Elizabeth Sturgeon, Sam Yeganeh
Institution: University of Cincinnati