Biobased materials for 3D printing have been around for a while. PLA, for example, is the most common material in desktop 3D printing. While PLA is easy to print, its mechanical properties result in a lack of industrial functionality. This has been one of the factors that has held back its adoption in high-strength environments such as construction.
Similar arguments are levied against other thermoplastics. To remedy this aspect, project BARBARA is looking to develop new high strength and durability materials that will meet the demands of the construction industry. This European project aims to find a new breed of biobased plastics from food waste or agricultural by-products.
This project is a collaboration between various companies across 11 European countries. The end goal is to produce 2 new prototypes to show the prospects of functional materials meant for construction purposes. Instead of turning to traditional means of material production, they are looking for sustainable and cheap solutions. As a result, ancillary companies such as FECOAM and CARGILL are providing food waste for processing.
The project leaders held the first meeting outlining the goals and ambitions of this venture in the Spanish city of Zaragoza. The project is due to run for 3 years. It is happening under the banner of the European Union Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020.
The project is a collaboration between food waste providers, universities, research firms, packaging and processing companies and construction companies. The Italian university of Perugia will be monitoring this entire process.
Making 3D Printing Materials From Biowaste or Organics
The project has a few guidelines on what the materials should be like. Firstly, they must be based on food waste or agricultural by-products. Food waste can come from vegetables, fruits and nuts such as carrots, almonds or pomegranates. Agricultural by-products from things like corn.
Secondly, the prototypes must possess specific mechanical, thermal, aesthetical, optical and antimicrobial properties to make them suitable for their industrial use. It appears that the project is looking to these materials for a wide range of uses judging by the high demands thrust upon the researchers.
This project marks a move towards not just sustainable materials but also towards a possible industrial applications. Both these elements will boost the usage of 3D printing materials and increase the need for printing in major aspects of daily life.