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Business and Economy

UMaine Announces Research Effort To Bolster Forest Products Industry

With an eye toward creating a new market for Maine's forest products industry, the University of Maine Thursday announced a new research collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Habib Dagher, founding executive director of UMaine's Advanced Structures & Composites Center, says the project will use wood fiber in 3D printer manufacturing, by grinding trees into powder.

“These materials have properties similar to metals,” says Morin. “We're taking those and putting them in bio-plastics so we can make very strong plastics that we can print almost anything with.”

Including, says Dagher, boat hull molds, shelters, building components and wind blades.

Speaking at the announcement in Washington, D.C., Maine independent Sen. Angus King says the UMaine/Oakridge collaboration is an outgrowth of efforts to find new uses for Maine forest resources following the closure of a number of Maine pulp and paper mills.

“Maine is the most forested state in the United States,” King says. “So we're sitting on a gold mine of fiber and the question is how to we utilize it, how to we create value, how do create jobs and this is an entirely new use.”