Sugar industry waste may be 3D-printing breakthrough

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In Scandinavia and Argentina, researchers are developing a new, high-tech use for the sugarcane waste bagasse—3D printing.

“Bagasse is an underutilized agro-industrial residue with great potential as raw material for the production of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) for a range of applications,” the researchers say in their paper, “Pulping and Retreatment Affect the Characteristics of Bagasse Inks for Three-dimensional Printing.”

The work involved extracting bagasse fibers using soda and hydrothermal treatment. According to the researchers—who 3D printed ears and noses to demonstrate the material’s utility—the pulping process is important to design inks for 3D printing that have appropriate surface chemistry, chemical composition and nanofibrillar morphology. “This is an aspect that has not been considered before in the design and formulation of inks for 3D bioprinting,” says author Gary Chinga-Carrasco. The CNFs produced were less nanofibrillated than corresponding material produced by soda pulping.

The collaboration include Norway’s RISE-PFI, Argentina’s Instituto de Materiales de Misiones, and Sweden’s RISE Bioscience and Materials.