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3D printing Biobased

3D printing Biobased Fabrication Network – BioFabNet Fig 1: Open House at the German Government (Berlin). Center: Ralf Kindervater, BIOPRO, right: Christian Schmidt, German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture In the field of 3D printing, an upcoming innovation factor in the plastics industry is the fact that the range of available materials for the so called fused layer modeling method (FDM) had been limited to polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylnitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) for a long time. Few new and innovative materials came up only recently and met a large demand of 3D printing users. Meeting this trend and developing new FDM-materials originating from renewable resources a consortium based in Stuttgart, Germany, initiated the project Biobased Fabrication Network (BioFabNet). The BioFabNet consortium is lead by BIOPRO Baden- Württemberg GmbH a public, non-profit innovation agency, owned by the State of Baden-Württemberg, performing the network building and support of the associated 3D printing user community to test and evaluate novel Biobased plastic materials. Plastic technology research to develop the novel biobased materials is performed by the IKT plastics technology Institute of the University of Stuttgart, where blending, compounding and filament extrusion is performed. The Fraunhofer Institute for production technology and automation (Fraunhofer IPA) has established a 3D-printing test centre where several commercially available 3D-printers have been installed jointly with highly specialized 3D printing heads to pre-evaluate the novel materials, produced by the IKT. Within the BioFabNet consortium new and innovative filament materials are being developed using partially or totally biobased polymers that are based on plant products such as castor oil, sugar, starch, and lignin or cellulose based on wood. The dedicated goal of the project BioFabNet is to achieve a specific publicity for biobased plastic materials and gain an increased market acceptance for this new material class. Biobased plastics play an important role in a climate compatible economy which abstains from the use of fossil resources, the so called Bioeconomy. In the Bioeconomy of the future, novel multi-usage cycles and long lasting recycling procedures are to be established in a Cradle to Cradle way of thinking and acting. The molecular integrity of nature-derived structures like plant fibres or plant oil ingredients, or wood as a complex structured material, has to be maintained in usage cycles to a high degree as long as possible, energetic use of such complex structures should be last in the queue. By combining novel biobased materials with consumer used 3D printers a dedicated awareness about these topics shall be placed widely in the public domain. For this reason, BioFabNet directly addresses such private users of 3D printers in order to evaluate novel materials in a testing community. Currently more than 100 users are part of the tester group of the BioFabNet, being supplied with free samples of biobased filament material to perform a range of 3D printing tasks like printing dedicated testing rods, a precision printing performance check sample piece, and some additional material amounts to print a free chosen sample piece. In order to bring the tester community in contact with each other and to get a direct feedback on the 3D printing experience with regard to the new materials a weblog has been initiated ( The project, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Reseach (BMBF) in the BioIndustry 2021 funding program, was started in August 2013 and runs for 2 years. The goal is to develop 4 or 5 novel 3D printing filament materials and get them evaluated in the user community. Promising materials shall be commercialized by interested companies in the field of plastic compounding. The first material, a blend of PLA and PBAT has been launched and evaluated by the testing community successfully. The next 2 materials, another PLA blend and a biobased polyamide, are currently being processed by IKT and IPA to send to the testing community in the coming months. In the run of the project interested companies that want to commercialize the 3D printing filaments, are welcome to contact the project consortium. By: Ralf Kindervater CEO, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart, Germany 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9

3D printing New bioplastic for 3D printing Plant-based plastics are already a popular choice for 3D printing because they are much easier to work with during processing, and are food safe and odour free. They are a great example of how sustainable alternatives can gain market share based on their performance, rather than just their green credentials. However, oil-based printing filaments are still used because they have a higher softening point and make more flexible models that will bend before they break. British-based developers Biome Bioplastics recently launched a new bio-based material for 3D printing filaments. Made from plant starches, Biome3D is a biodegradable plastic that combines easy processing and a superior print finish, while offering much higher print speeds. Developed in partnership with 3Dom Filaments, the new plant-based material was unveiled recently at the TCT Show 2014, the leading event dedicated to 3D printing, additive manufacturing and product development. Biome3D combines the benefits of both plant and oil-based printing filaments and demonstrates that high performance plant-based plastics can be the ideal material for the 3D printing industry. Biome3D combines a superior finish and flexibility, with ease of processing and excellent printed detail. In addition, and perhaps most importantly for the industry, it runs at much higher print speeds, reducing overall job times. “The future of bioplastics lies in demonstrating that plantbased materials can outperform their traditional, oil-based counterparts. Our new material for the 3D printing market exemplifies that philosophy. Biome3D combines the best processing qualities with the best product finish; it also happens to be made from natural, renewable resources,” explains Sally Morley, Sales Director at Biome Bioplastics. However, Biome Bioplastics did not disclose any further details about the bioplastic resins they are using. MT PLA compounds for 3D printing In order to take advantage of 3D printing as a comparatively inexpensive and creative option, special materials are needed which must be formulated specifically to match customer applications. PLA filaments are widely used today in 3D printing. The GRAFE Group (Blankenhain, Germany) offers its customers suitable and individual formulations for 3D printing. Reactor PLA can only, with much effort, be used to produce PLA filaments. Normally the material undergoes a compounding process using appropriate additives for the individual application. When pigments are fed into the formulation during compounding or through the masterbatches, further components are added. The additional materials in turn alter the viscosity and the result is impaired processability. This presents a great challenge for the manufacturers of (mostly) PLA and ABS filaments. The addition of pigments in general impairs process reliability and the consistent dimensional accuracy of the filaments. Consistent dimensional accuracy of the filaments is, however, a prerequisite for accurate printing and good structural development of the component. Grafe provides users of 3D printers with the right materials. Newly developed additive masterbatches can raise quality, efficiency and extrusion capacity. The thermoplastic PLA has a huge advantage over other plastics. Besides being easy to handle, the material displays minimal warp upon cooling so that the work piece maintains greater dimensional accuracy. High UV-resistance, low flammability and easy processing are additional features of this thermoplastic polymer. Environmentally conscious end consumers whose decisions reflect concern for the ecological balance may also favor this biobased and industrially compostable material. MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9 19

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