New 3-D printing filament a “turning point for global manufacturing”

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In Singapore, researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design have successfully demonstrated the use of cellulose in making large, 3-D printed objects.

By adding small amounts of chitin, the team was able to create fungal-like adhesive materials (FLAM) that are strong and lightweight. FLAM is also far cheaper than common filaments currently used for 3D printing, such as polylactic acid and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.

“We believe this first large-scale additive manufacturing process with 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,” research co-lead and SUTD Assistant Prof Javier Gomez Fernandez tells 3-D Printing Progress. “This reproduction and manufacturing with the material composition found in the oomycete wall, namely unmodified cellulose, small amounts of chitosan—the second most abundant organic molecule on earth—and low concentrated acetic acid, is probably one of the most successful technological achievements in the field of bioinspired materials.”   

Co-lead SUTD Assistant Prof Stylianos Dritsas says he believes the results “represent a turning point for global manufacturing with broader impact on multiple areas ranging from material science, environmental engineering, automation and the economy.”