MakerBot’s 5th-Gen 3D Printer Adds Wood, Metal, And More To The Mix

3D printing is rapidly becoming far more than just an expensive hobby for nerds. It’s slowly but surely altering manufacturing, prototyping, and product design as testing parts and ideas becomes cheaper, simpler, and easier. And now, thanks to Makerbot, a leader in the field, people will be able to do even more with it. How about 3D printed wood?

I’ve Got Wood

How is this possible? Well, it’s not actually wood, or at least not entirely. Instead, it’s a polylactic acid, or PLA, composite. The material in question is ground into dust and mixed with the extrusion medium to create, well, 3D printed metal, wood, and more.

Obviously it’s not the same as carving an item out of wood or forging it from metal, but it does mean that the material the printer uses will have some characteristics that might be useful. For example, a metal PLA composite could be magnetic.

Heavy Extruded Metal

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It’s not quite the same as “true” 3D printers that use powder directly to slowly build objects layer by layer. That said, however, it is a useful, consumer-focused step in the right direction; a hammer printed by a Makerbot may not be a full metal hammerhead, but you can use it for light hammering jobs.

Granted, you won’t be able to 3D print all your metal objects just yet; these won’t arrive until later in 2015. But until then, you might want to get busy designing.

Also why not check out:

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.

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