The recent articles (3ders, Thingiverse) about printing with “wood” piqued my interest, and I was excited to see the GRRF sells 0.5kg rolls. It seems I submitted my order in time because they are now out of stock – but taking pre-orders. The filament arrived today and I got a chance to make a test print – the trusty, if now unoriginal, minimug.
The GRRF page and the original Thingiverse entry by Kaipa state that it’s warp-free and requires no heated bed, so I gave this a try and true enough it printed out perfectly. The hot-end was set to 190°C at the start, and I manually increased the temperature in 10° increments to 220°C back and forth to produce the colour gradient.
The bottom of the print is smooth, similar to the finish from PLA, whereas the sides and top are rougher. So far I haven’t attempted working with it (drilling, cutting, etc), which I will try tomorrow. I did try a little sanding which required a bit more effort than real wood and again was similar to working with PLA. I’ll be interested to see how well it takes paints and lacquers.
I find this development pretty exciting as it opens up another material that works immediately with a reprap FDM printer. Kaipa isn’t revealing what is in the composite, nor his process, but Viktor from the forums pointed out a material from Tecnaro called Arboform. This thermoplastic composite is based on Lignin, a natural polymer, which is a by-product of the pulp industry.
“Mixing lignin with natural fibres (flax, hemp or other fibre plants) and some natural additive produces a fibre composite that can be processed at raised temperatures and, just like a synthetic thermoplastic material, can be made into mouldings, plates or slabs on conventional plastics processing machines.”
I believe Tecnaro only sells granules, and cater for manufacturers, as their minimum order quantity is 25kg (1 bag) but considering the recent arrival of filament extruders (Lyman, Filabot) it seems it would be a perfect match for the 3D printing community. Anyone in Germany (Baden-Württemberg) want to split a 25kg bag with me?
… and of course the minimug was watertight!