Manufactura and La Metropolitana use 3D printing to turn waste wood into sustainable structures

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Mexico-based company combats the environmental impact of waste wood manufacturing In cooperation with Metroa furniture manufacturing and design workshop, led an initiative named “The Wood Project” or “UN PROYECTO DE MADERA.”

MANUFACTURA Highlights The Wood Project is based on a method based on the natural properties of wood. The initiative will see La Metropolitana produce 5 to 6 bags of sawdust each day, weighing 40 kg. Envisioning a circular economy, the project reuses these waste byproducts to create 3D printed structures via a robotic arm, minimizing waste and environmental impact and employing sustainable cycles. Masu.

What are the results of this project?

Adopts one equipped with an extruder Hook KR-150 The 3D printing process for industrial robotic arms uses precise instructions to deposit materials to create complex, efficient, and sustainable structures. This material demonstrator focuses on three architectural scale bulkheads consisting of 72 pieces measuring 20 x 20 cm. The production took place over three weeks, including both 3D printing and drying stages.

Pieces can be easily duplicated and assembled, making it easy to scale elements. These bricks are made from waste-derived raw materials from La Metropolitana, processed to optimal sizes and produced sustainably in a circular manner. Most sawdust is rich in cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and other substances desirable for industrial uses. In addition, the resulting components exhibit surprising lightness. The company says each brick weighs an average of 207 grams, for a total of 15 kilograms for the entire structure.

Collaboration with Mexico Autonomous National University (UNAM), The Institute of Materials and Structural Systems (LMSE) is actively engaged in materials analysis. The materials are rigorously evaluated through microscopy and compression testing. Under compression, pre-fracture failure due to defragmentation occurred due to the limited flexibility of the material. Nevertheless, the average resistance value was 836.5 kg and the maximum average resistance value was 20.15 kgf/cm2. These values ​​are comparable to fired clay bricks, which typically exhibit resistances ranging from 13.34 to 39.50 kgf/cm2. Further exploration and refinement are essential to fully reveal the properties and practical potential of the material.

3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.
3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.

Sustainable solutions to Mexico’s waste problem

At the heart of this project is the creation of a biocomposite based on sawdust, sourced primarily from Mexico’s indigenous tsalum tree species. Tsalam wood, known for its appearance and hardness, is mixed with organic binders and lime to form a moisture- and bacteria-resistant matrix. According to MANUFACTURA, after extensive experimentation, it was found that sawdust from certain machines, such as the calibration machine and his CNC router, exhibits the best physical properties for his 3D printing.

According to a report by MANUFACTURA, Mexico faces the challenge of generating approximately 102,895 tons of waste every day. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources says that currently only 9.63% of this waste is recycled, and a significant portion of 83.93% is deposited in final disposal sites, contributing to pollution and environmental hazards. It states that At the same time, Mexico’s annual wood production reaches approximately 9 million cubic meters. Unfortunately, most of this wood, especially 45-65%, ends up as by-products such as sawdust, shavings, and bark, with minimal economic value.

With this in mind, The Wood Project’s goals are focused on sustainability and reinventing construction methods. This involves extracting raw materials from various industries, creating biodegradable materials, and utilizing cutting-edge technology to efficiently manufacture them. This approach aims to turn waste into a valuable resource, promote sustainability and create employment opportunities.

3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.
3D printed structure using wood as material. Image via MANUFACTURA.

Advances in wood 3D printing

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Researchers have developed a wood-based 3D printed material that deforms into predetermined shapes. Made from wood flour and plant extracts, this eco-friendly material warps as it dries due to the orientation of the fibers. This material has been previously developed and allows for the formation of complex objects due to the ability to control water evaporation during deposition.

researchers Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Charles Stark Draper Institute tackled deforestation by developing a method to 3D bioprint materials like wood. This method uses the living cells of the Zinnia elegans plant to create a wood-like material, potentially re-engineering the production of custom shapes such as furniture without consuming wood. Fine tuning of structural properties such as density and stiffness was achieved by adjusting the growth chemicals. This innovation demonstrated how sustainability and design can intersect and marked a major advance in green manufacturing.

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The featured image shows a 3D printed structure using wood as the material. Image via MANUFACTURA.

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