The Teredine Project extracts cells from leaves and uses them to grow wood-like cells, which are then cultured in a liquid growth medium. After they have proliferated, the cells are moved to a hydrogel that acts as a 3D-printed scaffold to make them grow into the desired shape.
Geneusbiotech points out that the cycle of growing, harvesting, and transforming wood into objects is extremely resource-intensive and creates a significant amount of waste. 3D printing the finished product using cultivated wood could eliminate this process.
The company says that while the technology is currently in its infancy, it may ultimately be possible to create shapes that would not be possible with conventional wood. The technology could also allow designers to make products from types of wood that cannot currently be used because they are rare, expensive, or endangered.
Cultivated wood is just one of the projects Geneusbiotech is working on — the company is also developing cultivated caviar, cell-based fur, and cultivated human hair (to be used for transplants).
3D printing is gaining ground as a method of producing alternatives to unethical or unsustainable products. To date, most research has focused on animal products such as meat and seafood, but the ability to produce plant tissues could open up a whole new set of possibilities.
“Why grow the whole tree, chop it down, saw it into pieces, screw it, glue it, and hue it, if you can just custom print the end product you really want?” says Geneusbiotech. “The Teredine Project vision aligns with next-generation biomaterial production for a sustainable luxury wood product market that aims to recreate natural beauty without destroying the natural world in the process.”