Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Biome Bioplastics Unveils Plant-Based 3D-Printing Filament to Rival Oil-Based Counterparts

One of the UK’s leading bioplastics developers, Biome Bioplastics, has launched a new plant-based material for the 3D printing industry. Biome says its Biome3D, made from plant starches, 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 material was unveiled last week at the TCT Show 2014, the leading event dedicated to 3D printing, additive manufacturing and product development.

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 odor-free. They are a great example of how sustainable alternatives can gain market share based on their quality and 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.

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.

Biome Bioplastics develops high performance, plant-based plastics for a wide range of applications, from catering to electronics. The company is committed to challenging the dominance of oil-based plastics and changing perceptions of the capabilities of biopolymers. Last year, Biome launched the first compostable solution for single-serve coffee pods, one of the fastest growing segments of the food and drinks industry. And in June, the company led a research project that explored the viability of lignin as a potential new source of organic chemicals for bioplastics manufacture, which could significantly reduce costs and increase performance of these sustainable materials. The partnership with 3Dom Filaments represents Biome’s first foray into the 3D-printing industry.

3D printing has been heralded as an important step towards more sustainable manufacturing. Potential environmental benefits include reduced transport emissions from lighter materials that can be developed closer to point of purchase, more efficient use of raw materials, and reduced number of parts needed for assembly. 3D printing also gives the ability to produce products on demand and to customize and optimize parts to improve efficiency.

In June, EKOCYCLE became the first lifestyle brand to unveil a home 3D printer for consumer use that also helps reduce plastic waste — the EKOCYCLE CUBE upcycles post-consumer plastic bottles into a range of everyday items of the user’s design.

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