3d Printing is an amazing technology but it becomes really difficult to explain its benefits to environmentalists, and I do not blame them as we all know that the use of plastic is really dangerous for our planet. Hence it becomes paramount for the 3D Printing community to work towards finding better alternatives of plastic which can be used for making products out of a 3d printer. I know many people reading this article would be thinking that PLA is the alternative that we are looking for but wouldn’t it be better if there was a raw material that was completely bio degradable.
Professor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering GuoYanlingfrom the Northeast Forestry University from China could have the answer to this problem. She has developed a new material for laser 3D printers which is made using waste material found in the agricultural and forestry sectors.She proudly calls it the "agroforestry waste 3D printing material" and is said to be suitable for building a wide range of excellent high quality 3d prints which can be a beautiful architectural models, precise industrial parts or even a wood paintings.
GuoYanlingandher team have patented this new material and is said to be made out of pile of straw and similar waste materials. The new raw material is said to have features like high precision results, and is inexpensive to produce. Mr. GuoYanling said that most high tech laser printers work with ABS and Nylon plastics as these materials are high strength and precision properties but these are hazardous to the environment, but his material has the same characteristics however the added benefits of being environment friendly have.
Giving out the details about the new material Ms. GuoYanling said the new material is made using straw, rice hull, wood, bamboo and corn powders and costs as less as 2 RMB per kilogram($0.30 UD). These are then combined with easily available binders and can be commercially sold for as less as $15 a Kilogram.
She added that the new material is made from farm wastes hence the straw, corn and other leftovers which were burnt in the fields adding to the particle pollution in china could now be put to good use. According to statistics, China as a large agricultural country generates more than 700 million tons per year of straw, much of which is labeled as waste. If this waste can be converted to 3d printing material it would add to the economic development of the rural population of china and create a win win situation for everyone involved.
Ms. GuoYanling has 3 patents for the new material and while she is plans to continue to teach at the university the new 3D printing material would be sold by a company recently formed by him. She plans to use a mix and match of the waste materials and could be customized according to customer demand hence creating a really versatile product range. She has already received orders from 3d printer manufacturers from Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin and we are sure this is just the beginning!!