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  1. #1

    How can I make a biodegradable 3D printing filament completely from scratch?

    I want to make a biodegradable 3D printing filament completely from scratch. What raw materials do I need to make the biodegradable plastic and how do I make the biodegradable plastic into filament. Which extruder do I use? My budget for this project is approximately $200. I have access to a school science lab

  2. #2
    What raw materials do I need to make the biodegradable

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polylactic_acid

    is it me or have people even forgotten how to use a search engine ?

    And what do you know - I was right. pla printed at higher temps is stronger :-)

  4. #4
    I'm sorry but I'm new to 3D printing but thanks for the link it was very helpful

    Also, after I make a biodegradable plastic, how do I turn it into filament?

    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polylactic_acid

    is it me or have people even forgotten how to use a search engine ?

    And what do you know - I was right. pla printed at higher temps is stronger :-)

  5. #5
    Staff Engineer LambdaFF's Avatar
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    Look into extruder setups. There have been countless kickstarters on that, google is your friend !
    Oh look, the 1st result of a search ! http://www.instructables.com/id/Buil...actory-Filame/

    And Oh, the third result : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_filament_extruder

    Seriously though, it is an auger screw with a hotend, all able to withstand 200°C. Not rocket science. Being able to extrude consistant diameters is something else though.

  6. #6
    Engineer-in-Training
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    There is a lot of complex chemistry involved in creating plastic. You can make several different types of "bioplastic" from household ingredients but if you want a melt-processable polymer then I would suggest speaking to a chemical engineer. I haven't been well versed in the creation of bioplastics, however I do know the process is just as complex as traditional petroleum based plastics if you intend to create something practical - so that's what I will detail an example of:

    For "normal" plastics, the process begins with something called fluid catalytic cracking. This breaks the petroleum hydrocarbons out of crude oil, giving you things like ethane gas (among others, which are used for other plastics).

    Ethane gas is used in the creation of polyethylene. Basically, you link more and more "mono"mer units together using catalysts to form "poly"mer chains. For PE: Ethane (gas) -> butane (liquid) -> paraffin (wax) -> polyethylene (solid). Interesting note to everyone here who, probably, doesn't print with regular old PE, degradation of polyethylene literally reverts it back into paraffin wax. If you have ever been to a public zoo in the U.S., and maybe other places around the world, there are little injection molding units that crap out some animal figurine or another. They use PE in these and since the plastic sits there all day long it degrades, and that's why they have a distinct wax texture - because it kind of is wax.

    Ethane is also a base for pvc, teflon, and polystyrene as well.

    In any case, the polymerization process involved in PLA, or any other plastic, depends on the type of plastic and desired properties. You need to carefully control this phase in order to achieve chain lengths that result in usable material. It is possible to overdo this process and create useless material, or not take it far enough before stopping the reaction which also results in useless material.

    This link should point you in the right direction:

    http://www.chemistry.illinois.edu/re.../06_Porter.pdf

    Once you have the polymerization process figured out, then you need a way to form it into granules of a size suitable for processing in an extruder. You will also need to research additives, as raw plastic polymers are usually too sticky and degrade far too easily to process reliably. Things like plasticizers, ozone and UV inhibitors, flame retardants, and stabilizers to prevent degradation during repeated melt cycles.
    Last edited by Ama-fessional Molder; 05-05-2016 at 12:08 AM.

  7. #7
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Does anyone have experience with Fibretuff or other biopolymers besides PLA?
    http://www.woodcompositesandmolding.com

  8. #8
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    mever heard of that before.
    Looks interesting though, and there is a picture of a roll of filament.
    No actual mention anywhere on the website where you might actually buy it though.
    Weird.

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