New bioplastic material for 3D printing creates parts, packages at high speeds

Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

October 9, 2014

The new Biome3D biodegradable material was designed specifically for use with 3D printers. Developed in partnership between Biome Bioplastics and 3Dom Filaments, the material is made from plant starches and reportedly combines the best characteristics of bio-based and oil-based materials.

Plant-based plastics for 3D printing are easier to process than oil-based plastics, according to Biome Bioplastics. They are also food safe and odor free, but run slower than their oil-based counterparts on 3D printing systems. Oil-based plastics, on the other hand, have a higher softening point than bio-based plastics and create flexible parts that bend before they break. And, as mentioned, these filaments also run at higher speeds.

Sally Morley, sales director at Biome Bioplastics, says, "The future of bioplastics lies in demonstrating that plant-based materials can outperform their traditional, oil-based counterparts. Our new material for the 3D printing market exemplifies that philosophy. Biome3D combines the best processing qualities with the best product finish; it also happens to be made from natural, renewable resources."

The Biome3D material extrudes at nozzle temperatures from 356 to 437 deg F (180 to 225 deg C) at a print speed of 80 to 100mm. The company recommends a nozzle diameter of 0.4mm.

Biome3D comes in seven stock colors, with custom colors available for large orders.

Many packagers have been using 3D printing in their packaging R&D departments for testing and creating prototypes. These operations typically use oil-based plastics such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). But the market is out there, and possibly growing, for bio-based materials for 3D printing—and not just for testing or prototypes. One enterprising entrepreneur is actually using 3D printers to manufacture her own biodegradable jars, albeit in small quantities. Read more about the Anita’s Balm story here.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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