3D printing these days is not actualy… um… green. Because it uses plastic. However, a team at Emerging Objects, a small fabrication studio in Oakland, has developed a material made from salt, wood and clay that can be (greenly) used to make 3D printing a lot greener and cheaper.
“Many people are focused on machines that print plastic, ” Rael told Gizmodo. “We’re looking at itom the other direction, at the materials themselves.”
Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, two architects who teach a 3D printing studio at Berkeley, used a standard 3D printer. Their printed objects are interesting, having a faux grain, because of the layered printing process, salt looks like “solid milk” and the materials are also stronger than classic plastics. That is due to their secret formula behind the salt-wood-clay cement.
The team is now finishing a room-sized object with salt harvested from the Pacific (a renewable resource) and waste wood chips from the lumber industry. “We’re using waste products from the lumber industry and salt, a renewable and inexpensive resource,” says Rael. “It’s certainly an ecological way to think about 3D printing.”
Using locally-produced, renewable materials is certainly the way to go in this business. By the end of the year, the two will form a company that will patent and produce their printable cement.