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3D-printing breakthrough paves the way for printed "wooden" products

Several years ago, we heard how scientists from Sweden's Chalmers University had created a 3D-printing medium made from wood fiber. Now, they've developed a new method of printing with it, producing solid material with the structure and qualities of natural wood.

The original material took the form of a nanocellulose gel – this means it contained tiny cellulose fibers, which were obtained from wood pulp. And while a variety of objects could conceivably be printed from it, they would lack the porosity, toughness and torsional strength of actual wood.

Recently, however, the researchers added a new ingredient: hemicellulose, which is a natural component of plant cells. This boosted the strength of the gel, acting as a glue to help hold the cellulose fibers together.

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