Is there really a wood 3D printer? Check out our in-depth guide to learn all you need to know about wood 3D printing today.
Well, not exactly, but since 2012, printing with wood filament has been possible. But what is wood filament? Basically, it’s PLA filament that contains wood fiber. Once printed, the final object looks and feels surprisingly wood-like.
These days, many filament manufacturers offer their own take on wood filament, with many types of wood being represented. Nevertheless, wood filament can still be a “temperamental” material, with the potential for difficulties during printing.
In the following, we take a look at exactly what wood filament is and how to use it. We’ll also discuss post-processing and mention a few popular brands.
If you’d like to know more about the various types of PLA, check out our PLA filament guide.
Typically, wood filament is composed of around 70% PLA and 30% wood fiber. Because of the added wood, it tends to be more delicate than regular PLA, breaking more easily.
Early wood filaments were made with sawdust, but the final prints looked more like cardboard than wood. The advantage was its greater flexibility, but with today’s wood fiber filaments, 3D printed objects can look, feel, and smell just like carved wood.
Depending on the brand, you can find several different types of wood filament, like bamboo, birch, cedar, cork, ebony, olive, pine, and even coconut! But pay close attention to the filament you buy: Make sure it actually has wood fiber and not just wood coloring, because the finish won’t be the same.
Similar to regular PLA, it’s best if you preheat your nozzle to between 170 and 220 ºC. Naturally, the exact temperature will depend on the filament.
One interesting thing with wood filament is that you can experiment with different temperatures to produce different colors and finishes. That’s because an extruder at higher temperatures will burn the wood fiber, creating darker shades.
Just be aware that wood is highly flammable. If the hot end is too hot and the nozzle isn’t extruding filament fast enough, your print could become damaged or even catch fire.
To prevent clogging, it’s recommended to equip your printer with a nozzle larger than the standard 0.4 mm. Additionally, it’s especially important with wood filament to keep the nozzle clean!
The Build Plate
To create quality prints with wood filament, it’s a good idea to use a heated bed, but it’s not necessary. If you have one, preheat it to somewhere between 50 and 70 ºC.
What is necessary is to provide an adhesive surface, either with painter’s tape, glue stick, a glass plate, or PEI sheets. Otherwise, it’s very common for parts to slide around during printing.
Once you start working with wood filament, you might experience some issues with oozing and stringing. Playing around certain slicer settings can help! Here are some handy tips:
When the 3D printing process is finished, you can start the final touches. Yet, with wood filament, you can even start with coloring during printing. As mentioned earlier, changing the print temperature will produce subtle color changes.
Sanding a wood 3D print is very similar to sanding a normal piece of wood. Start with a harder grit and gradually work your way to a softer one until the object is smooth.
Just like real wood, objects 3D printed with wood filament are porous, meaning they easily absorb different dyes and stains. Consider using a stain to produce different colors and surface finishes.
If you have access to a CNC laser machine, an engraver, or even a pyrography set, you can add features or drawings to your finished piece of work.
(Main image: 3DWithUS)
Below are a few popular brands that sell wood filament for any printer:
License: The text of "Wood 3D Printer – All About Wood 3D Printing in 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…