Generally speaking, 3D printers incrementally fuse layers of plastic together to form a shape, and while metal printers and those capable of using other exotic materials are on the horizon, making something out of non-meltable materials such as wood seems like a difficult proposition. That, however, is no problem for this “Plywood 3D Printer” made in three days during Formlabs’ 2019 hackathon by a team including Shane Wighton.
The printer employs an interesting mix of additive and subtractive manufacturing, first cutting layers of ¾ inch particle board, then gluing them on top of each other in a fully automated process. The first step is accomplished by a router and rather normal gantry setup, and applies glue to each layer with an applicator attached to the gantry. A new sheet is then automatically fed onto the stack of particle board, and pressed down hard enough to ensure good adhesion between the layers. This and subsequent layers are cut in a similar manner, eventually producing a block of wood with a model inside. From there, the outer shell can be cut out manually, producing a fairly low-resolution, though gigantic benchy model.
Motion control is handled by an Arduino Due, along with off-the-shelf stepper drivers. A BeagleBone Black runs the machine control firmware, while a number of relays trigger the device’s pneumatics, lights, and even a car horn to signify when the job is done.