“Grow” entire pieces of furniture from lab-grown wood

January 27, 2023 | Lab Furniture

 The future of furniture is finally here thanks to bioengineering. We can now grow wood products with the exact features needed for a particular application through plant-cell cultivation. 

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have uncovered a technique to grow wood that does away with cutting trees and reduces the wastage from shaping the material. Instead, they wanted to ‘’grow’ the furniture and build it according to what was desired.

Lead author and recent Ph.D graduate, Ashley Beckwith declared in a press release that the process includes growing the plant materials in the exact shape according to the client's needs without having to do any subtractive manufacturing. The goal of the entire process allows the reduction of energy consumption and waste. They also saw great potential to expand the growth to three-dimensional structures.

Alongside Beckwith are other prominent figures - Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, principal scientist in MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories, and Jeffrey Borenstein, biomedical engineer and group leader at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. 

Odoo image and text block
Odoo image and text block

The researchers called the lab-grown wood, “‘wood-like plant material’’, which is crafted from the cells of the leaves of Zinnia elegans, a flowering plant. The cells are first cultured in a liquid medium then to a gel-based medium that has nutrients and two different hormones. By tweaking the hormonal concentration in the nutrient broth, researchers can determine the physical characteristics of the wood ranging from its density, stiffness, thermal property and strength. This procedure is likened to how hormones in the actual human body influence cells’ development and the emergence of certain traits. In changing the hormone concentrations, the plant cells react differently, producing dramatic changes in terms of physical outcomes. 

This procedure could take months as the cell culture needs to be incubated and dehydrated after being specifically shaped. Nevertheless, this is a hundred times quicker than actually growing a tree. 

Back To Top
We are fully compliant with the GDPR laws. We promise to safeguard your data and protect your privacy rights.