Wood Filament 101
When it boils down to choosing the type of filament for 3D printing, you’ve many options including wood, metal, and PLA filaments. The availability of so many options could make you overwhelmed and lead you into the wrong choice.
To avoid any such scene, you need to take into account various considerations, especially the main material. Let’s find out about the wood filament and why it may be your best choice.
What is a wood filament?
These filaments integrate a PLA (Polylactic Acid) base material with sawdust, cork, or other wood derivatives that give the models a wooden feel and look. The filament contains about 30 percent wood particles. However, the exact amount is dependent on the brand. It’s the existence of these particles that tenders the aesthetics and visuals of real wood to the 3D printed parts.
History of wood filament
Wood-based 3D printing was born somewhere around 2012. The early filaments were PLA that integrated sawdust. However, experiments revealed that sawdust wasn’t an ideal solution for wood-based 3D printing.
Even today, the wood filament is PLA based, but wood is unified in fiber forms. Plus, various types of wood could be found. You could choose between coconut, birch, cedar, timber, bamboo, and others. Essentially, wooden filaments consist of 30 percent wood fibers and 70 percent PLA. However, the composition mostly depends on the manufacturer.
How long does wood filament last?
Wood is an environmental-friendly material. The fibers are mostly created using timber and cedar. Plus, wood is biodegradable compared to composite materials. However, wood can last for a long time without posing issues. The PLA content in the filament usually lasts for 10 to 15 years, but the existence of wood derivatives lengthens the lifespan of the filament. Consequently, you enjoy the 3D printed parts for life.
Diversity of wood filament
Wood has become a widely used filament in 3D printing today. Many reasons contribute to the popularity and usage of wood. However, the most important reason is its diversity. From materials to color and composition, wood can blend with a wide variance.
As mentioned earlier, the materials used for wood-based filaments vary greatly. You may use coconut, birch, cedar, timber, and bamboo in conjunction with PLA. However, the rich diversity allows manufacturers to use the best option they think fit. Manufacturers may also go for the material (coconut or timber as the case may be) that’s easily available for them or opt for an affordable option. The variety is virtually limitless.
Blends and compositions
Wooden filaments are essentially blended with PLA for better results. Usually, 30 percent wood derivatives are used and PLA content accounts for the remaining 70 percent. However, this composition may vary greatly. It all depends on the brand that manufactures the filament.
Both PLA and wood are Eco-friendly. Plus, they retain their structure and mix with one another effectively, thus tendering the varied properties of wood and PLA to the final product. Not just that, you may add metal powder to the composition during the manufacturing process. This, in turn, polishes your print and makes it shine just like other metallic items.
While wood is limited to particular shades, the addition of PLA renders color flexibility. PLA has a diverse spectrum of colors. By blending PLA with wood, you can attain the desired color you’ve in your mind. Color may not affect the usability of 3D printing. However, it’ll definitely enhance its visual appeal and make it stand out even in a crowded, cluttered area.
Cost of wood filament – Where to buy it?
When blended with PLA, wood makes a favored choice for many applications, including the most popular 3D printing. Due to high demand, the price has gone up. Yet, you may get it at an affordable price. Usually, the cost ranges between 35 and 50 dollars per kilogram. However, the cost varies based on the demand, composition, and maker of the product.
For example, a blend of 70 percent PLA and 30 percent wood may be a costlier choice. On the other hand, an increase in the composition of wood compared to its PLA counterpart may slash the rate. The cost also depends on the popularity of the brand.
The more popular the brand, the higher the price will be. You may buy it offline or online. However, shopping at mega online marketplaces is a better and affordable option.
Uses of wood filament
These filaments were formed as an alternative to overcome the cons of PLA filaments used in 3D printing. However, the applications of wooden filaments aren’t limited to 3D printed parts. Rather, they extend to various other fields. For instance, these filaments are widely used in display and design items. Jewelry and trinkets are a special mention in this respect.
Attempts are made to increase the uses of these innovative filaments in various other sectors too. Many brands provide decorative items made out of wooden filaments. Common examples include birthday and anniversary decor.
Will wood filament match your needs?
If you wish to use these filaments for 3D printing, make sure your printer can print diverse wood blends. The reason – no two printers are the same. Check with the printer brand to figure out this point.
If you want to use these filaments for display and jewelry purposes, look for aesthetics. Go for a blend that has more PLA content and less wood. A little bit of labor should help you make the best choice.
Pros of wood filament
As with any other item, there’ll be pros and cons of wooden filaments. A quick peek at the merits and demerits will let you know whether these filaments are perfect for your specific usage. Some of the important benefits are detailed below.
Wood and PLA are non-toxic themselves. Consequently, they don’t pose any health threats. Plus, both items are Eco-friendly. They don’t cause any harm to the surroundings and the atmosphere. By using wooden filaments in 3D printing, you showcase your responsibility toward a clean planet.
Other 3D printing filaments are highly brittle. One of the most popular PLA is also brittle. However, PLA, when blended with wood, becomes a bit durable. The higher wood composition renders higher durability to the product. This, in turn, lets you enjoy the companionship of your 3D printed parts for years.
Ease of usage
Compared to many other types of filaments, wooden models are fairly easy to use. The print temperature of wood and PLA is also low. As such, it’s less likely to warp the nozzle or block it. Even an amateur can get started with 3D printing using wood filament.
Using materials for commercial purposes can be a costly affair. This is even more correct in the case of 3D printing where you need filaments repeatedly. However, wood-based filaments reduce your cost drastically. Unlike other types of filaments, you don’t have to dent your budget on buying wood blends.
People love the smell of wood in most items. This applies to 3D printing and display items too. Even though wood is blended with PLA, it does emit some natural smell. Having a nice smelling print acts as a USP and helps you win clients.
Cons of wood filament
Although the blends of wooden filaments present a plethora of benefits, they’re not free from flaws. Reviewing the cons will help to figure out ways to curb those demerits. Plus, it’ll let you make the best selection of the blend as well as the brand. Here are some of the cons.
Although wood is strong, the final filament is brittle, thanks to weak PLA. Consequently, the filament may wear out soon due to abrupt usage. Wood filament isn’t recommended for heavy loads of higher value.
Making 3D printed parts involves immense work and money. However, wooden filaments can’t sustain heat and may catch fire. When that happens, your money and legwork will go waste. You ought to store the filaments in cool and dark rooms to avoid damages.
PLA isn’t stringy by itself. However wood renders some sort of stringiness to the blend. While it’s less annoying, a little bit of post-processing could be imperative on particular prints.
Toxicity of wooden filaments
Wood is usually blended with PLA for final usage. PLA itself has low toxicity. Wood, on the other side, is safe. Its blends with PLA make the final product less toxic. As a word of advice, don’t inhale the fumes of burnt filaments.
Storing wood filament
Like other filaments, wooden filaments should be stored carefully in a safe place. If you leave them in the open, wood will absorb moisture and ruin the filament. It’s best to buy special containers to ensure the secure storage of these items.
Wood filament has revolutionized many fields. From 3D printing to display and jewelry, you can use these filaments for many purposes. Plus, the varied perks that come with wooden filaments make them a clear winner in the market. All it takes is the choice of the right brand and the ideal composition of the filament. With the right blend and model, you can get much better results from wood blended filaments.