The Engineer – New bio-resin could enable truly circular 3D printing

Described within the journal Nature, the photopolymer resin makes use of a feedstock derived from lipoic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid molecule generally offered as a dietary complement. The Birmingham group made a mix of two monomers from the lipoic acid from which they have been in a position to make a resin that might be recycled both again into the monomers, or again to the unique molecule for recycling.

As a part of the research, the researchers accomplished two printing ‘recycles’ with the fabric however anticipate that additional recycles could be attainable. Reprinting the resin requires the addition of only a small quantity of photoinitiator to take care of the fabric’s curable properties.

“Our strategy is a crucial step away from counting on 3D-printable resins constituted of petrochemicals, which can’t be effectively recycled,” stated lead researcher Professor Andrew Dove, from Birmingham’s College of Chemistry.

“Whereas we nonetheless have enhancements to make to the properties of the brand new resin, this analysis opens up thrilling new avenues for growth.”

Makes use of for the fabric might embrace industries the place speedy prototyping is used to check merchandise earlier than transferring to mass manufacturing. Though at the moment the fabric is extra versatile than is perhaps generally utilized in trade, future functions might embrace automotive elements, medical and dental parts, and even jewelry design.

“Enabling recycling throughout the light-mediated 3D printing trade is important since it’s a quickly increasing technique for supplies manufacturing,” stated co-lead researcher Assistant Professor Josh Worch.

“We now have the prospect, with our expertise, to assist make sure that recycling turns into a built-in characteristic of 3D printing.”

College of Birmingham Enterprise has filed a patent utility overlaying the resin and its use in 3D printing.

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