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American 3D printing pioneers launch Forust 3D printed wood products

And set out on a mission to save forests

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Created by the founders of pioneering 3D printing companies, Figulo, Boston Ceramics, and Emerging Objects, FORUST is a wood technology company that brings together expertise in design and 21st-century manufacturing to promote healthy forests and sustainable interiors.

FORUST has decades of collective experience in additive manufacturing, material research, and computer aided design. The founders created FORUST to change the way we manufacture with wood, using methods that are non-destructive to the planet’s ecology. Instead of starting with forests, Forust starts with sawdust, and end with forests.

The Sawdust Screen

The products are largely based o the extensive research that Emerging Objects has conducted over the past decades on binder jetting of wood sawdust, leading to geometrically complex, elegantly finished structures, that include tiles, blocks and panels.

Emerging Objects is the creative think-tank run by architects Virginia San Fratello and Ronal Rael. San Fratello is the Chair of the Department of Design at San Jose State University in Silicon Valley and also acts as the Chief Creative Officer at Emerging Objects. Ronald Rael is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of California Berkeley. At FORUST San Fratello is the company’s President and Rael is the COO.

In launching the FORUST project, they partnered with another US AM industry veteran and 3D printing pioneer, Andrew Jeffery, who is the new company’s CEO. Jeffery is the former President of the ceramic 3D Printing companies Figulo and Boston Ceramics. Previously, he was the Director of Ceramic Products at 3D Systems.

At Emerging Objects, San Fratello and Rael have conducted research in binder jetting of several materials leveraging Zcorp/3D Systems binder jetting technology. They have developed unique expertise in how this process can be leveraged to mass-produce end-parts using an unparalleled selection of materials, from ceramics and cement to rubber, sand and even salt, chocolate and tea (yes, tea). They have used this experience to push the limits of materials, design and also, many times, for making social and ethical statements about society and our world in general. Mr. Jeffery is one of the leading experts and innovators for ceramics binder jetting – and ceramics 3D printing in general – in North America.

Poroso. Design: Virginia San Fratello,  Ronald Rael, Molly Wagner and Victoria Leroux Material: Wood. Dimensions:  47cmX32cmX10cm

Products include the Sawdust Screen (in the two images at the top of the page), which is fabricated from 3D printed walnut, with the surface retaining the layering effect from the additive manufacturing process, simulating natural wood grain. The screen is comprised of individual 3D printed wood components that are affixed together to form a variably dimensional enclosure and surface.

The Sawdust Screen is inspired by the vessels found in the microscopic analysis of wood anatomy in hardwoods. When viewed from the endgrain, vessels simply appear to be holes in the wood—what are commonly referred to as pores. In a live tree, vessels serve as the pipelines within the trunk, transporting sap within the tree. In the Sawdust Screen, the vessels serve as an opportunity for visual porosity. The subtle curvature of each vessel accentuates the openings as convex or concave apertures making the screen both a visual and haptic experience.


The Wood Block, in the image above, is an example of 3D printed wood as a possible building material that can be mass-customized. Here too, the additive layer manufacturing of the Wood Block creates a grain similar to natural wood, while the wood material itself is composed of recycled agricultural waste.

Designed by Anthony Giannini, the texture and subtle translucency of the 3D printed wood material gives the material a warmth, texture and luminosity under certain lighting conditions. It can be used as a curtain wall or as a customized masonry unit. It also highlights the ultimate goal of Forust, which is to preserve first wood by using wood waste and technology to create new wood products.


The Burl is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be caused by an injury, virus or fungus.

In this case, the Burl (in the three images above) is a product of the 3D printing of wood, exploring the forms and thickness that is possible with this as an emerging material in additive manufacturing. Like a burl found in nature, this burl contains cracks, deformations, and dense layers of growth rings—a product of the layers of manufacturing.

Poroso, also shown midway through the page and in a close-up above, is an experiment in block aggregation using a specially formulated wood material. The wood has a higher accuracy and finer finish than previous formulas. It is also stronger and more easily able to be excavated from the print bed.

Like other wood materials, this formula retains the layering effect from the additive manufacturing process, which simulates natural wood grain. Poroso is made with recycled wood fiber and other agricultural waste products.

Forust’s binder jetting approach enables the production of colored wood surfaces from sawdust. Not only that, textures and even 3D textures that look like real wood are also possible. The company is basically 3D printing wood waste back into wood.


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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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