Forust Aims to Turn Millions of Tons of Waste Sawdust Into 3D-Printed Wooden Objects

Designed to create attractive wooden objects from what would otherwise be wasted, Forust's modified 3D printers churn out engineered wood.

Environmentally-focused startup Forust is looking to make 3D printing more eco-friendly — by printing objects using waste sawdust, rather than plastic.

"Forust was founded to make high-volume wood 3D printing affordable, reliable, and sustainable," the company explains. "We are applying the speed, precision and quality of binder jetting to produce strong, lightweight wood components derived from two wood waste streams - sawdust and lignin. We believe that responsible material value chains are critical to achieving net-zero carbon emissions, and that additive rematerialization will play an important role in building this sustainable future."

In statements made to Fast Company, which brought the company to our attention, Forust chief executive Andy Jeffrey claims that nearly 100 million tons of sawdust are generated in the US alone — and that the bulk, which is equivalent to the wood found in 30-40 million trees, is either buried in landfills or incinerated.

Forust aims to change that, by turning a waste product into a valuable resource — with a little help from 3D printing techniques. Using a custom 3D printer, the company layers sawdust and a glue containing lignin until the final wooden object is made. Impressively, it's also possible to vary the density of the sawdust layers — meaning that the wooden objects can be given a grain, just like virgin wood.

"Forust’s environmental impact is twofold," the company claims. "Significantly reducing the amount of sawdust sent to landfill or incineration by processing it for 3D printing, and combating deforestation by producing sustainable products from wood waste. Parts printed using the Forust process can be used in a wide variety of applications — from consumer goods to luxury interiors."

The company currently has two models of printer, both based on third-party commercial printers modified for use with the company's sawdust medium: The Shop System, an enclosed unit designed for batch production of small- and medium-size parts; and the Desktop Metal RAM 336, a large-format single-pass printer designed for mass production. The company also offers print-on-demand services, for those only testing the process out.

More details are available on the Forust website, while the company's store offers samples of objects printed from sawdust starting at $20.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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