Microtimber: The Development of a 3D Printed Composite Panel Made from Waste Wood and Recycled Plastics
This chapters reports research conducted in the context of the multi-disciplinary research project at the University of Sydney—Microtimber: Development of a 3D printed, gradient timber panel composed of forestry waste and by-products (2015–2019). Funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), the research intends to valorise forest and plastic waste by combining saw dust with recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) to develop an environmentally sustainable composite material suitable for 3D printing, using a fused filament fabrication process. First, the research explores the mechanical performance and printability of wood-plastic composites and variations in their respective compositions and second, it develops new 3D printing processes that achieve material and aesthetic gradients through the optimisation of printing parameters and development of printing algorithms. The aim is to achieve a fluidly variable gradient material that represents a new design paradigm in architecture and replaces traditional architectural systems that rely on the mechanical layering of different elements such as structure, rain screen, insulation, lining etc. Preliminary testing showed that from a perspective of environmental sustainability, the unproblematic recycling of these Microtimber specimen promises to close the loop between the material sourcing stages and the end of life management of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Keywords3D printing Wood Waste Architecture Aesthetics
This research was conducted in the context of the multidisciplinary research project Microtimber: Development of a 3D printed, gradient timber panel composed of forestry waste and by-products (2015–2019). Funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).
The authors would like to thank students and staff who contributed to this research project: Yerong Huang, Jordan Girdis, Yicheng Todd Zhou, Eduardo De Oliveira Barata, and Pamela Kahwajy. We also thank Susana Alarcon Licona from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning’s DMaF lab for her excellent support in robotic fabrication.
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