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  /  Latest News   /  Welcome Preservation! Researchers Create Commercial Wood Using 3D Bioprinting
3D bioprinting

Welcome Preservation! Researchers Create Commercial Wood Using 3D Bioprinting

MIT researchers have created lab-grown timber by developing 3D bioprinting techniques.

Every year, humans cut down about 15 billion trees. This massive deforestation is the root cause of many climate change problems. Now there is a new solution that promises an end to our need of cutting trees. A team of MIT researchers claims that lab-grown timber can replace products made from real wood, hence, diminishing the need for deforestation. They have developed a new system by using 3D bioprinting techniques, using which timber can be produced in any shape and size, like we can create a wooden chair in a lab without cutting a single tree!


The 3D Bioprinting Process for the Plant Material:

The researcher’s technique is to generate wood-like, lab-grown plant material, which could enable growing a wooden product, like a table, without needing to cut down trees, process lumber, etc. These researchers have now demonstrated that, by adjusting certain chemicals used during the growth process, they can precisely control the physical and mechanical properties of the resulting plant material, such as its stiffness and density.

The researchers extracted cells from the leaves of a common zinnia plant. Later, converted the plant cells with a gel-based medium enriched with nutrients and hormones. And finally, the cells gave rise to new plant cells. And they noticed that by changing the hormonal concentration in the gel medium, they could control the physical and mechanical properties of the newly grown cells.

The researchers use a 3D printer to extrude the cell culture gel solution into a specific structure in a petri dish and let it incubate in the dark for three months. Even with this incubation period, the researcher’s process is about two orders of magnitude faster than the time it takes for a tree to grow to maturity. Another goal of this work is to study what is known as lignification in these lab-grown plant materials. Hence, it can be easily demonstrated that we can now build wooden furniture in labs without touching a single tree and harming the environment.