3D printing has already performed some impressive tasks, proving that there will be alternatives to mass production that will not sacrifice quality, customization, or price. However, the majority of 3D printing currently involves a lot of plastic, making it a little less environmentally friendly than many of us would like to see. That’s where companies like Emerging Objects come into play, a Berkeley-based 3D printing operation that uses natural materials such as clay, wood, and salt.
So far, the Emerging Objects team of two architects have printed furniture, components, and bricks out of salt from San Francisco Bay, wood pulp, and clay. The goal is to create items that are “sustainable, inexpensive, stronger, smarter, recyclable, customizable and perhaps even reparable to the environment.” Everything that has been created thus far is recyclable and in some cases, made with recycled materials.
According to Gizmodo, one of the most fascinating things about all this is that the printed cement is actually stronger than standard cement. Not only that, but the method employed by Emerging Objects is also 90% cheaper than current technology used for 3D printing. Maybe there is more than just an environmental incentive to it, after all.
Overall, the goal is to develop 3D printed products and materials for buildings and interiors that reshape the way we look at our infrastructure and construction process. We are so used to using products made of cheap colored plastic and particleboard, but replacing fast, cheap labor with entirely customizable wood or clay 3D printing could not only pave the way to products that are healthier, but also cheaper, better quality, and have less of an impact on the planet.
Do you think products made of wood, clay, and salt are a good alternative to everyday plastic items? What would you like to see made with 3D printers?
Image: Emerging Objects