The opportunities of 3D printing organic compounds (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 46)

3D printing is still struggling to overcome issues regarding biodegradability and its ecological impact. We’ve been using materials for thousands of years that are of natural origin and can easily be disposed of. It’s been a challenge to translate that to the latest manufacturing tech around. Cellulose is having a comeback, as researchers are understanding how to create polymer structures from abundant and renewable raw materials. A new group of new biomaterials is being developed, some with transient properties, capable of degrading and dissolving on-demand. Nanocellulose has been invented in the 1970s as a food thickener and could be coming to a dish near you, made more palatable thanks to 3D printing. Advances in chemistry collide with the challenges of 3D printing to open the way for complex, smart and immensely useful organic materials.

MIT Develops Method To 3D Print Abundant Natural Polymer Cellulose

Diagram showing a) printing process b) process under a microscope c) extruded filament d) mini glasses e) mini rose. Image via Advanced Science News.

MIT scientists Dr. Sebastian Pattinson and Prof A.J. Hart have now published a possible method of 3D printing a derivative of cellulose as a substitute for environmentally problematic plastics, one which sidesteps previously encountered problems. […] As detailed in the research paper, after printing, the cellulose acetate parts can be converted to cellulose proper by de-acetylation using sodium hydroxide.

Read the full article here.

3D Printed Biomaterials Degrade on Demand

Biomaterials that can degrade on demand have been 3D printed by engineers at Brown University. The materials were fabricated by means of stereolithographic printing, which uses an ultraviolet laser controlled by a computer-aided design system to trace patterns across the surface of a photoactive polymer solution. The capacity of the materials to degrade is imparted by the development of reversible ionic bonds. Precursor solutions were prepared with sodium alginate, a compound derived from seaweed that is known to be capable of ionic crosslinking. Different combinations of ionic salts, including magnesium, barium and calcium, were then added to 3D print objects with varying stiffness levels, a factor which affected how quickly the structures dissolved.

Read more about the research here.

Can 3D Printed Nanocellulose Transform The Food Industry?

Cellulose is a natural ingredient, but would you necessarily want to eat it? Diagram of the nanocellulose extraction process via bio1151.nicerweb

The Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is the latest institution to introduce a nanocellulose-based platform that promises “the 3D printing of personalized food” with the added ability “to cook, bake, fry and grill while printing at the three dimensional space.”

Read the full article here.

 

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