Growing Wood Products in a Laboratory- A Green-Technology to Combat Deforestation

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Growing Wood Products in a Laboratory- A Green-Technology to Combat Deforestation

Wood is a renewable resource, but at the current rate of usage by humans, we may be in danger of massive deforestation. A new green-technology is being developed and scientists at MIT are taking the lead in 3D-printing of wooden objects using plant cells in a medium influenced by hormone levels to dictate density. Such a technology can alleviate pressure on Earth’s forests and allow people to print their ideal object.

3D-priting is a technology that I have been interested in for years with many new applications. Engineers and builders are printing houses, organs and tissues and even wooden objects. I have been around 3D-printed prototypes that have allowed engineers to experiment with designs quickly to save time and money.

Engineers at MIT have created a new process to generate shapes grown from wood in a laboratory. The process takes wood cells and adds them to a matrix gel and hormones are added to modify the density of the wood. A hard-wood or soft-wood structure can be modeled. A 3D-printer is them used to layer the matrix into a shape, and the structure grows much faster than a plant could grow in nature. This is a novel and green-technology that could make furniture production, building material manufacturing and other industries that rely on wood products to become much more sustainable. Scientists have projected that the world’s forests could be decimated within the next century, and this technology can alleviate pressure on our forests worldwide.

The novel 3D-printing method pioneered at MIT is a game changer for manufacturing wooden objects. The danger to Earth’s forests can be lessened by since the density of the wood can be impacted by hormone level modulation makes this viable for a large range of products. Expect to see 3D-printed wooden objects soon.

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