Wood furniture is usually made by sawing, carving, bending or pressing. You too know it well, that with a nice brug in your hand you reassemble those flat packs of the well-known Swedish company! Old school now.
Now scientists have discovered how to transform wooden shapes extruded from a 3D printer into complex three-dimensional objects. Objects that could be used for the production of wooden furniture or other packaged products which, once dried, "transform" into the final desired shape.
The researchers will present their results at the autumn meeting ofAmerican Chemical Society (ACS).
A very special ink
Many plants and animals have the ability to change their shapes and structures. Wood from a felled tree can soften even after being cut, folding its fibers in different directions as it dries. "This deformation can be an obstacle," he explains Doron Kam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the researcher who will present the study.
They were Sharon, Ph.D., another researcher involved in the project, says that unlike some natural objects, man-made structures generally cannot model themselves. In recent years, scientists have started printing flat sheets from synthetic materials, such as gels and elastomers, which can transform into three-dimensional shapes after a stimulus change such as temperature, pH or moisture content. I wrote a "tasty" post about it (so to speak) a while ago. The item? A "pasta transformer" that can be bought flat and then changes shape once in boiling water. Find it here.
A few years ago, Sharon's team developed an eco-friendly water-based ink. It was composed of waste wood microparticles known as "wood flour" mixed with cellulose nanocrystals and xyloglucan, natural binders extracted from plants. Using a 3D printer, the researchers found that the way the ink is deposited, or the 'path', determines the morphing behavior when the moisture content evaporates from the printed piece.
Self-transforming wooden furniture
In tests, a flat disc printed as a series of concentric circles dried and shrunk to form a "saddle" structure reminiscent of a Pringles chip. A disc printed with a "ray" pattern has turned into a dome or cone.
Does the word "wooden furniture" appear in my head only?
The researchers also found that changing the print speed can alter the final shape of the object. Slower printing aligns particles more randomly, resulting in greater shrinkage in all directions. Faster printing produces less sharp shapes.
Further refinements will allow the team to combine saddles, domes, propellers and other design motifs to produce objects with complicated final shapes, such as a chair. Ultimately, it will be possible to make wooden furniture that is shipped flat to the end user, "opening" one hour after opening (I'll give an example). Or license the design of the object, having it printed directly by people at home.
And IKEA changes. Or he will buy the technology, why not.