May 31, 2017 | By Benedict

11 organizations from across Europe have joined forces for BARBARA, a three-year 3D printing research project. With a budget of 2.7 million euros ($3.02m), the project will seek to develop “Biopolymers with advanced functionalities for building and automotive parts processed through additive manufacturing.”

BARBARA members meet in Zaragoza, Spain

“Ba, ba, ba, ba, Barbara Ann,” sang the Beach Boys on their 1965 smash hit “Barbara Ann.” Fast forward to 2017, and the conversation has turned to Barbara AM, with a number of European organizations joining forces on BARBARA, an exciting new additive manufacturing project that could make 3D printing greener than ever.

BARBARA (Biopolymers with advanced functionalities for building and automotive parts processed through additive manufacturing) brings together 11 participants from Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium, and will involve the development of new bio-based materials made from food waste or agricultural by-products. The project will last approximately three years.

The initiative is being funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 innovation program, which is also responsible for funding projects like the BAE-affiliated LASIMM consortium and Fuel3D’s 3D scanning eyewear solution. BARBARA's 2.7 million euros might sound like a lot, but Horizon 2020 will actually pay out around 80 billion euros of funding to various research and innovation projects by the year 2020.

The 11 BARBARA participants include both businesses and universities, with specialists in food and farming waste, construction, automotive, chemistry, industrial materials, machine and design processes, as well as efficiency and impact monitoring.

Their goal? To develop bio-based polymers that can be 3D printed into items such as car door handles and dashboards for the automotive sector, in addition to molds, truss joints, and other structures that can be used in the construction sector.

As part of the project, Acciona Construction, one of the 11 BARBARA participants, is planning to test biopolymer-based prototype molds for beams in its construction laboratories. Such molds are often used for constructing bridges, towers, roofs, and ceilings—load-bearing structures that must be capable of absorbing vibrations, good and bad.

The 11 members of the BARBARA project

“Fiber-reinforced composites can offer an efficient alternative to traditional metallic structures as they are lighter and more durable, although the uniqueness and specifications of each project requires specific molds, which makes their use in civil engineering works problematic,” Acciona says.

Not only will BARBARA’s 3D printable biopolymers be used for a variety of purposed in the construction and automotive industries, they will also be made from readily available resources: food waste and agricultural by-products.

Of course, not all food waste will be suitable for turning into 3D printing materials, but part of the project will involve identifying and selecting the best available materials for the task at hand. God only knows when 3D printing will be seen as a truly environmentally friendly manufacturing process, but the success of BARBARA could certainly help the industry push toward that goal.

The recycled 3D printable biopolymers that the organizations hope to develop will be suitable for FDM/FFF 3D printing.

“The project aims at the valorization of side-stream fractions and residues from agro-food production into novel polysaccharides and functional additives,” the BARBARA members wrote in their EU proposal. “These raw materials have been selected based on the advanced functionalities [they provide] to the polymeric matrixes.”

The BARBARA 3D printing project will be coordinated by the Aitiip Technology Centre in Zaragoza, Spain, where the group recently held its inaugural meeting. Wouldn’t it be nice if the three-year project resulted in an effective method for turning organic waste into 3D printing materials? We’ll be keeping a close eye on the project to see if it can.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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