Feb.8, 2012

bioplastics for 3d printersMany companies are working on recycled and biodegradable materials for the injection molding and packaging industries, can these materials being printed by a 3D printer?

Students and professors from Stenden College in Emmen, the Netherlands are working on bioplastics for 3D printers. In fact a large number of bioplastics can be used in 3D printing. PLA and recycled ABS, and various starch based thermoplastics and materials such as PHB and biopropylene can all be 3D printed.

Students are doing researches with bioplastics for making it an alternative to conventional, petroleum-based plastics. They want to get rid of the image of chemistry of being dirty and smelly. Recently professors Rudy Folkersma and Jan Jager are appointed to the college to develop a leading research center. "In the coming decades we will be working on greener and smarter materials. They are the future for industries", said Jager. They work with biopolymers, a kind of building blocks made of plastic, which comes from biomass such as starch, corn or sugarcane. Unlike plastics from petroleum, they are reusable and biodegradable. Researchers are working hard to investigate new applications for bioplastics. "We are investigating the conversion methods to transform PET bottles to yarn, PET bottles is made of polyester, by using 29 PET bottles we can produce a fleece sweater."

Richard Trip, a 27-year-old student is working in a lab testing bioplastics on a 3D printer. "I am researching plastics of various thickness and their suitability for 3D printing." Trip has developed several types of flexible and printable bioplastics and brought to the market. He is now busy with the next challenge. "Currently no objects with sharp corners can be printed. If we develop a plastic that dissolves in water then we can print objects in all kind of forms. After printing we put the product in warm water to dissolve the unnecessary material then we can get the form we want. "

Within Stenden PRE(Polymore Research & Education) there are currently several projects in progress to make new products from PLA. For example, PLA is used for the development of monofil for 3D printer, a sort of 3D printer filament. One year ago the success of monofil brought the college the first order - a kilo monofil. The latest order they got was five hundred pounds. Thanks to the development of 3D printing technology, 3D printer has become affordable for consumers and businesses and there are increasingly demand of materials for making prototypes.

Researches on 3D printing are not only lucrative, according to Jan Jager there is another purpose: "Working with 3D printers is full of fun. Developing different monofils attracts more students to join us and that is exactly what we want. There is a chronic shortage of trained chemists. "

They work not only on the existing bioplastics, but also looking for new sources of biomass. "We are also experimenting with bacteria to make plastics. We give these bacteria a lot of sugar to eat and they are converted into green bricks. Then we isolate them and transform them into bioplastics to make all interesting items." said Folkersma.

The applications of plastics made from corn starch or sugarcane are endless. It will take a long time before we really reach a biomass economy. But when more sustainable materials will be used in 3D printers, all these improvement in materials will also improve the output of 3D printers and benefit the 3D printing industry.


Via: Trouw

Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Tim Postma wrote at 2/5/2015 1:33:04 PM:

It is a scientifically realistic myth but it requires enough plasticizer in order to make the viscosity fast enough so it never clogs , then yes

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