Questions for ‘No trees were harmed to 3-D print this piece of wood’  

a helix created from a strip of printed wood

This helix started as a flat strip of 3-D printed wood that curled into its present shape only as it dried. A faster print speed causes the helix to curl tighter than strips printed more slowly.

D. Kam

To accompany No trees were harmed to 3-D print this piece of wood’  


Before Reading:

  1. What does it mean for wood to “warp”? Imagine two fresh-cut wooden planks that are the same size and shape. Both planks start straight. But as the planks dry, one plank develops a slight bend while the other remains straight. What are some reasons for this difference? Come up with two. In one or two sentences, explain your reasoning.
  2. What is 3-D printing? List three household items that you would like to 3-D print if it were possible. For each item, identify what material or materials would need to serve as “ink” to print that item.

During Reading:

  1. What is 4-D printing? How does 4-D printing differ from 3-D printing?
  2. What causes some seedpods to open as they dry?
  3. What did Doron Kam and his team hope to learn by 3-D printing wood using different printer speeds and patterns? 
  4. How did a strip of flat 3-D printed wood differ when printed with a fast print speed versus a slow print speed? 
  5. André Studart pointed out that in addition to print speed and direction, there was one other factor that the team considered when studying wood warp. What was it? 
  6. On average, how much plant waste is created to produce one ton of palm oil in Indonesia? How might this waste find a new use (consider what you read about in this story)?
  7. What are cellulose nanocrystals? How were cellulose nanocrystals used in this study?

After Reading:

  1. In what way does Kam hope this technology might one day “change the way people build things?” Imagine a future world where furniture is 3-D printed using the technology described in this story. How might shopping for a new bed differ from today? Be creative! Do you think physical furniture stores would be more common or less? Identify an advantage that may come from this kind of change.
  2. What are some reasons that many people may be looking for ways to use wood waste? How important do you think it is to find ways of using our waste products, such as wood? Explain your answer simply, as though explaining your reasoning to a child.