Cellulose is one of the most abundant and broadly distributed organic compound and industrial by-product on Earth. Yet, despite decades of extensive research, the bottom-up use of cellulose to fabricate 3D objects is still plagued with problems that restrict its practical applications: derivatives with vast polluting effects, used in combination with plastics, lack of scalability and high production cost.
However, researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have recently demonstrated the use of cellulose to sustainably manufacture/fabricate large 3D objects. Their approach diverges from the common association of cellulose with green plants and is inspired by the wall of the fungus-like oomycetes, which is reproduced introducing small amounts of chitin between cellulose fibers. The resulting fungal-like adhesive material(s) (FLAM) are strong, lightweight and inexpensive, and can be molded or processed using woodworking techniques.
This material is completely ecologically sustainable as no organic solvents or synthetic plastics were used to manufacture it. It is scalable and can be reproduced anywhere without specialised facilities. FLAM is also fully biodegradable in natural conditions and outside composting facilities. The cost of FLAM is in the range of commodity plastics and 10 times lower than the cost of common filaments for 3D printing, such as PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), making it not only more sustainable but also a more cost-effective substitute. The researchers have furthermore developed an additive manufacturing technique specific for the material.
Co-lead of this research, SUTD Assistant Prof Javier Gomez Fernandez, also known for the development of Shrilk said: “We believe this first large-scale additive manufacturing process with the most ubiquitous biological polymers on earth will be the catalyst for the transition to environmentally benign and circular manufacturing models, where materials are produced, used, and degraded in closed regional systems. This reproduction and manufacturing with the material composition found in the oomycete wall, namely unmodified cellulose, small amounts of chitosan –the second most abundant organic molecule on earth — and low concentrated acetic acid, is probably one of the most successful technological achievements in the field of bioinspired materials.”
Co-lead SUTD Assistant Prof Stylianos Dritsas, added: “We believe the results reported here represent a turning point for global manufacturing with broader impact on multiple areas ranging from material science, environmental engineering, automation and the economy. So far we have been focusing on fundamental technology development, and little time has been invested in specific target applications. We are now at the stage of seeking industrial collaborators to bring this technology from the laboratory to the world.”
With the increase in waste and pollution, the urgency for more sustainable manufacturing processes is growing. The establishment of a technology based on unmodified compostable polymers of great abundance that does not require cropland or forest resources, will foster the transition to environmentally benign manufacturing and a sustainable society.
The Latest on: 3D printing with cellulose
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The Latest on: 3D printing with cellulose
- Optimizing the 3D Printing of Natural Materials on a Large Scale on September 25, 2018 at 12:18 pm
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- Biocompatible 3D Printing Materials Market Worth $832.7 Million by 2023 on September 7, 2018 at 3:30 am
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- Soon, plants cellulose to replace polymers for 3D printing on March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm
Plants could be a renewable and biodegradable alternative to the polymers currently used in 3-D printing materials, researchers have found. A new paper, published in the journal Advanced Materials Tec... […]
- Plant cellulose may replace plastic in 3D printing on March 5, 2017 at 10:56 am
Using cellulose acetate the number of hydrogen bonds in this material was reduced by the acetate groups. Boston: Plant cellulose may potentially provide a renewable and biodegradable alternative to po... […]
- Plant cellulose may soon replace plastics as a biodegradable alternative in 3D printing on March 5, 2017 at 4:42 am
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- Understanding The 3D Printing Ecosystem on October 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Andreas Bastian is a 3D printing scientist at Autodesk ... have dramatically different properties and serve different purposes, but are both ultimately cellulose fibers (wood pulp). What actually sets ... […]
- 3-D printer creates objects using wood cellulose on June 19, 2015 at 2:48 am
LONDON: In a breakthrough, scientists have used a 3D bioprinter to print three-dimensional objects made entirely from cellulose. The researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden also a... […]
- Cellulose from wood can be printed in 3-D on June 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Credit: Peter Widing A group of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have managed to print and dry three-dimensional objects made entirely by cellulose for the first time with the help of ... […]
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