Menu
Hands on with MakerBot's 3D printed wood

Hands on with MakerBot's 3D printed wood

Later this year you'll be able to print with materials containing wood, metal or stone

MakerBot's 3D printed hammer

MakerBot's 3D printed hammer

3D printing has lost its novelty value a bit, but new printing materials that MakerBot plans to release will soon make it a lot more interesting again.

MakerBot is one of the best-known makers of desktop 3D printers, and at CES this week it announced that late this year its products will be able to print objects using composite materials that combine plastic with wood, metal or stone.

At CES, I handled a 3D-printed hammer made from composites of maple and iron, and I came away impressed. It was a bit lighter than a real hammer but still had some heft to it, and the surface of the wood actually looked and felt like wood grain. It even smelled of wood, because there is real wood in the composite.

The iron head was a bit less convincing. The surface texture felt right, but it wasn't heavy enough to be iron and it was too warm; the brain expects metal to be cool to the touch. But still: this was wood. And iron. Coming out of a printer. It's pretty remarkable.

If you're not familiar with how MakerBot's printers work, they use a long plastic thread, or filament, wrapped around a spool. The filament feeds into an extruder -- basically the print head -- which heats it to a liquid and pours it on the object being printed, where it solidifies again.

For the new materials, MakerBot has figured out how to take particles of wood, metal and limestone and mix it with the plastic to form the composite filaments. An engineer at its booth wouldn't say what proportions of plastic to natural material it uses, which is probably a trade secret.

MakerBot plans to release the new materials later this year. I didn't actually see the objects I handled being printed, and MakerBot didn't appear to be printing them at its booth. Besides the hammer, it showed off statues and busts from the limestone, and pots from the iron.

The new materials will work with any of MakerBot's fifth generation Replicator printers, though users will need to buy a new extruder for each one.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags PrintersperipheralsCES3D printersMakerBot

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments