Can Wood be 3D Printed

What is 3D Printing?

A type of (CAM) known as 3D printing allows the creation of actual goods using computer-aided designs (CAD). In contrast to conventional production techniques including subtractive, joining, and formative techniques, 3D printing technology offers affordable customised products with effective raw material use especially now many 3D model maker programs are available.

This technology makes use of a variety of materials, including inorganic materials like concrete, sand, ceramics, and gypsum as well as polymers like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), polyamide, and polyvinyl alcohol (PVAc), as well as metals like gold, silver, stainless steel, and titanium. 

The use of expensive ingredients, such as UV-curing resins and environmentally hazardous synthetic compounds, has, however, stunted the development of 3D printing.

Wood as a 3D Printing Material

Can Wood be 3D Printed
3D printed wood. Image source: Sculpteo
Rosewood, an endangered tree on the verge of extinction as demand for rosewood furniture in China clears out forests in countries like Madagascar, is the most trafficked natural commodity in the world, surpassing ivory and rhino horn in terms of volume. 
But what if wood waste could be used to 3D print an equivalent material? Nature is plenty of wood, and using woody biomass for 3D printing offers several benefits. Gypsum and plastic composites made of biomass, as well as multifunctional nanocomposites and biopolymers, can help to lower the high cost and carbon footprint of 3D printed goods. Additionally, 3D-printed items made from wood are ecologically beneficial.
Well, not precisely, but it has been feasible to print using wood filament since 2012. How about wood filament though? It is essentially PLA filament with added wood fibres. After printing, the finished product has a striking wood-like appearance and feel.
Nowadays, a wide variety of wood species are represented in the wood filament produced by the various filament makers. 
Nevertheless, the wood filament has the potential to be a “temperamental” substance and provide printing challenges. To create a filament, wood is first ground to a fine powder and then combined with binders such as sodium silicate, cement, cellulose, gypsum, polymers, and adhesives. Then, various 3D printing processes are utilised with these filaments to create the things.

3D Printing Techniques and Technologies


A 3D printer printing a 3D model. Image source: Directindustry e-magazine

The wood powder may be used with a variety of 3D printing techniques, including binder jetting, material jetting, powder bed fusion, and material extrusion.

CAD software may be used to create 3D scans of objects or original drawings. These drawings are then transformed into STL (stereolithography) or an AMF (additive manufacturing file) type. Important details like material kind, colour, and measurements are contained in these files. 

The 3D printer then receives this file and produces the necessary component in line with the printing procedure. The final product still needs post-processing steps like machining and heat or chemical treatments after the 3D printer generates the appropriate portion.

Wood Filament in Brief

A toy elephant created by using wood filament. Image source: YouTube

Typically, 30% wood fibre and 70% PLA make up the wood filament. It tends to be more fragile than conventional PLA and breaks more quickly as a result of the additional wood

Sawdust was used in the early wood filaments, although the finished prints resembled cardboard rather than wood. The benefit was increased flexibility, but with today’s wood fibre filaments, 3D-printed things may resemble carved wood in appearance, texture, and scent.

You may find a variety of various types of wood filament, depending on the manufacturer, including bamboo, birch, cedar, cork, ebony, olive, pine, and even coconut! The finish won’t be the same, so pay particular attention to the filament you purchase and make sure it contains real wood fibre rather than merely wood colouring.

Thermostat Controls

As with PLA, it works best if the hot end of your printer is preheated to between 170 and 220 C. Naturally, the filament will determine the precise temperature.

The ability to experiment with different temperatures to generate various hues and finishes is an intriguing feature of wood filament. This is because burning the wood fibre in an extruder at a greater temperature result in deeper colours.

Be mindful that wood is extremely combustible. Your print may burn or get damaged if the hot end becomes too hot and the nozzle isn’t extruding filament quickly enough.

It is advised to give your printer a nozzle bigger than the typical 0.4 mm size to prevent clogging. Additionally, maintaining a clean nozzle is crucial when using wood filament.

Printed Bed: It’s a good idea to utilise a heated bed while printing with wood filament, however, it’s not strictly required. Pre-heat it, if you have one, to a temperature between 50 and 70 C.

It is essential to offer a sticky surface, which can be accomplished using painter’s tape, glue, a glass bed, or PEI sheets. Otherwise, it happens frequently when printing that components would slip about.

Further Settings

Once you start using wood filament, you can run into some oozing and stringing problems. Trying out various slicer settings may be beneficial. Here are a few useful hints:

In general, while utilising wood filament, don’t be scared to change the number of layers. Having more or less is normally not a problem because the material is usually quite effective at concealing layer lines.

Increasing print speed can occasionally avoid blockage since wood filament hardens very rapidly.

Combing is a Cura parameter that recalculates the nozzle’s motions so they remain inside the printer. This will lengthen the printing process but stop oozing and enhance quality. This is equivalent to Simplify3D’s “avoid crossing outline for travel motions” parameter.

A parameter in Simplify3D called Coasting lowers the pressure on the nozzle each time it approaches the conclusion of a printing segment. You may also experiment with changing some of the settings, such as the speed and the amount of coasting material. Negative numbers may lessen the likelihood of stringing or oozing.


You may begin the finishing touches when the 3D printing is complete. However, when printing with wood filament, you may even begin by colouring. As previously noted, adjusting the print temperature will result in modest colour adjustments.

Sanding a 3D print of wood is fairly comparable to regular wood sanding. When the piece is smooth, begin with a harsher grit and gradually move to a softer one.

Similar to actual wood, items made with wood filament during 3D printing are porous, making them susceptible to various stains and dyes. Think about applying a stain to create various surface finishes and hues.

You may add features or drawings to your completed piece of art if you have access to a laser cutter or engraver, a CNC machine, or even pyrography equipment.

Options for Wood Filaments

There are several high-quality wood filaments available. For instance, Timberfill, a series of four distinct wood composite filaments from Fillamentum, is 100 per cent biodegradable in aqueous and anaerobic environments.

Seven distinct wood-based filaments, including those created of birch, cedar, coconut, ebony, olive, pine, and willow, are available in the EasyWood range from FormFutura. Each one has 40% wood particles.


It is possible to create wood cell models with varying magnifications using 3D printers and wood powder with binders.

Comparatively speaking to conventional procedures, which help create furniture of any desired shape or design, this technology has allowed scientists to construct wood-based complicated structures rather quickly. 

The intended objects can also be 3D printed using scrap wood powder and wood that has been thinned. As a result, it is feasible to use this method to create a complex component at home because the ingredients are widely accessible.

Advantages and Limitations

Wood has a significant deal of promise for usage in 3D printing due to its inexpensive cost and plentiful supply. Manufacturing problems with the environment and costs can be resolved with wood powder. Additionally, bioadhesives help to further minimise environmental difficulties when used as binders in conjunction with wood powder.

Utilizing wood powder for 3D printing has several drawbacks, including decreased mechanical and physical performance. However, these issues with product quality may be resolved by adopting post-curing processes, including the right particle sizes, using modifiers, and managing printing settings.

These procedures are not without their technological difficulties, such as the 3D printer’s nozzle being clogged with wood powder. To address these problems, however, further study on the impacts of powder quality is needed because the topic is still relatively young. 

For instance, particle shape and tree species can both impact the quality of the powder. The choice of the wood and particle geometry is therefore highly important.

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