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Now We Can 3D Print Wood In Lab As Much As We Want Without Cutting Trees

3D print trees
Source : istock

Stop cutting trees! Will this slogan stay a slogan forever? We’ve been butchering trees as though they grew in a day and had an infinite number.

A global forest survey finds that we have already wiped away 54% of the total tree population on Earth since the beginning of human civilization, Despite the fact that it is well known that one of the main causes of recurrent heat waves, droughts, and tsunamis is uncontrolled deforestation.

We continue to regularly cut significant numbers of trees for the production of goods including paper, wax, medications, rubber, and furniture. Some of these things are so essential to our way of life that it is impossible for us to imagine our lives without them.

Does that imply that we will continue to cut down trees to satisfy our needs?

The first wood that could be 3D printed in a lab was revealed by a study that was later published in the journal Materials Today. The MIT scientist used this study to show that deforestation is no longer necessary to produce timber.

Producing furniture without cutting trees

The study authors manufactured customised wood in their lab from the cells of a flowering plant known as Zinnia elegans, generally referred to as common zinnia. They stated that their innovative method enabled them to bio-print wooden items of any size & shape. This means that if you require a wooden table, you can make wooden table directly from the cells.

As a result, there is no deforestation or waste, as is the case with traditional furniture. This was accomplished by first treating common zinnia cells with a liquid medium, and then with a gel solution. The latter was made up of hormones & nutrients.

The researchers were able to control the stiffness, strength, density, and a variety of other physical and mechanical qualities of the lab-grown plant matter by varying the concentration of these hormones.

While emphasizing the importance of their research, the authors wrote in their article: “(Our) recent work proposed a novel approach to generate 3D-printed tunable plant materials from cell cultures with the potential for waste reduction, increase yields and production rates, and reduce environmental impact as cultures are produced from a non sacrificial plant sample rather than whole plants.”

This is just a humble beginning

After completing her research work at MIT, main author Ashley Beckwith launched a firm dubbed FORAY bioscience to further develop novel techniques & methods for growing wood without cutting trees. The current strategy that involves producing plant matter from common zinnia cells is merely the first step in this direction.

It is also the first-of-its-kind approach that employs tissue engineering for creating plant matter in a lab. Until date, scientists had employed this technology for exclusively animal cell culture.

“Analogous notions have not been transposed to the plant culture realm, particularly with respect to the production of materials. The research team writes in their study, “Thus, this work represents a first glimpse at a cellular agriculture strategy to plant material generation.

Beckwith and her colleagues are now planning to 3D print timber in a lab from pine tree cells. Once this occurs, deforestation will undoubtedly become a thing of the past.

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