Cellulose You Can 3D Print | Digital Asia

AsianScientist (Jun. 21, 2018) – In a study published in Scientific Reports, a research group in Singapore has used cellulose to sustainably manufacture and fabricate large three-dimensional (3D) objects.

Cellulose is one of the most abundant and broadly distributed organic compounds and industrial by-products 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. For example, production costs are high, and the methods used are not scalable.

In the present study, researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have successfully used cellulose to 3D large objects. Although cellulose is usually associated with green plants, the SUTD researchers drew their inspiration from fungus-like microorganisms called oomycetes. The resulting fungal-like adhesive materials (FLAM) are strong, lightweight and inexpensive, and can be molded or processed using woodworking techniques.

This material is ecologically sustainable as no organic solvents or synthetic plastics were used to manufacture it. It is scalable and can be reproduced anywhere without specialized facilities.

FLAM is also fully biodegradable under natural conditions and outside composting facilities. The cost of FLAM is in the range of commodity plastics and ten times lower than the cost of common filaments for 3D printing, such as polylactic acid and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, making FLAM not only more sustainable but also more cost-effective. Furthermore, the researchers have developed an additive manufacturing technique specific for the material.

“We believe this first large-scale additive manufacturing process, which uses 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,” said SUTD Assistant Professor Javier Gomez Fernandez who co-led the research.

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 article can be found at: Sanandiya et al. (2018) Large-scale Additive Manufacturing With Bioinspired Cellulosic Materials.


Source: Singapore University of Technology and Design.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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