WASHINGTON D.C. (WABI) - A new partnership is breathing fresh life into forestry in Maine.
The federal government is investing 20-million dollars to give Umaine the world's largest three-d printer.
Researchers will pump a mix of super-fine sawdust, plant matter, and plastic through the machine, making just about any object imaginable.
Senator Susan Collins says if the new technology takes root it will breathe new life into the state's struggling timber industry.
"I believe that we will get back to the days where we once again look at our forests and realize that they can be a source of a whole new, high-tech material
"What we thought about was how do we make other uses of the forest products resource in Maine. In addition to supporting the traditional industry, which by the way has come back, and there has been significant investment in the pulp and paper industry in the last couple of years. But how do we make use of this enroumous resource? The second data point I am going to mention is that Maine is the most forested state in the United States"
Collins expects the new technology to eventually create thousands of jobs, replacing some of those lost from saw mills closing.
Waste from those still operating should be able to provide all the wood manufacturers would need.
Umaine will work with Tennessee's Oak Ridge national laboratory on the research project.
Collins says she hopes to secure another 20-million-dollars for the project in next year's budget.