MakerBot has made an interesting announcement during CES 2015: the company will release new composite filaments that have been chemically bonden with new materials. We’re talking about outstanding materials, as MakerBot aims to add maple wood, limestone, iron as well as bronze to their collection of filaments. The PLA composites will probably not be released until late 2015, but when they will be out this might become a huge thing for 3D printing. We have heart about wood printing before and we’ve seen some proper examples of this technique, but bronze printing? That’s an entire new level to 3D printing in general.
For the ones who aren’t too familiar with the concepts of PLA composites: when we’re talking about bronze or iron filaments, we don’t mean a 3D printer will solely be using bronze or iron to print out objects. No, the PLA will always be a combination of bronze and plastics. This implies that 3D printed iron products will look a bit different from regular iron products. For instance a hammer (above); during CES 2015, MakerBot showed that hammers can be 3D printed because of the prototype of their iron filament. And yes, they somehow look like mathematically structured ones – as they are made by computers – but the fact that mankind is able to print hammers is simply amazing.
MakerBot did not just 3D print the hammer’s head, which was made of iron, but its handle as well. The handle was made of maple wood filament, and it even seems to smell like wood. It reminded us of the – running – 3D Print Canal House project in Amsterdam, Holland. Here, a young team of architects is also experimenting with 3D printed wood. In this article you can see an image of what they created using composite filaments, but as you can see their product looks way more plastic-ish than the handle of MakerBot’s hammer. The similarity is that both composite wood filaments smell like wood.
There are more companies that are experimenting with wood printing, such as 4 AXYZ, a company that 3D prints wooden furniture. And what to think of Jelwek, which prints stylish wooden watches? For these companies, the announced implementation of the new filaments by MakerBot will probably lead to more competition. Maybe not the most ideal situation for their business plans, but it’s a great step for the world. The more companies that are experimenting with composite filaments, the better the product will become eventually.
Image credits: MakerBot.