Technology: 3-D Printing with Real Wood, Stone, and Metal

January 09, 2015

Next comes 3-D printing with real materials, like wood, metal, and stone. Lately 3-D printers have come down in price into the $2,500 range, so it won't be long before every remodeling design shop will be printing out project models to enhance their sales presentations. But until now, the filaments used by these printers have been limited to run-of-the-mill plastics that make the printed output look like, well, plastic.
 
A startup called Makerbot is about to change all that. The company's 3-D printers work by melting a thin plastic filament and depositing it like cake icing on a printing bed, where it hardens. Recently the company announced three new filaments that simulate the look and feel of real wood, stone, and metal. The filaments are still mostly plastic, but they have enough particulate wood, stone, or metal in them to look and feel like the real thing.

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