Estonian start-up 3Cular designs: creating 3D objects from sawdust

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What can be done with the millions of tonnes of wood by-products generated by sawmills each year? Most of the sawdust produced is burned or turned into wood pellets. However, research shows that burning sawdust emits more carbon per unit of energy than most fossil fuels.

Faced with this issue, Estonian start-up 3cular has designed a pioneering way of reusing this sawdust to produce new value objects with 3D printing.  The desired object is designed using 3D modelling software and then a 3D printer is used to produce the object in layers. The printing ink is a combination of sawdust and a non-toxic binder which makes it possible to print complex wooden objects faster and more easily, saving money, resources and the environment.

Thanks to this innovative printer, wood and furniture industries can adapt their processes to circular business models, additional revenue streams and upcycling, while reducing the use of plastics as the most popular 3D printing material.

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3cular reduces cost and production time as well as material loss and CO2 emissions compared to traditional 3D printers. For example, the replacement of one cubic meter of plastic printing material with timber saves 1 000 kg of CO2 emissions, and even more in the case of sawdust.

Using left-over material (sawdust) that at the moment is seen as a low-value resource also means giving waste a new life.