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3D Printing News Unpeeled: Disposable 3D Printed Clay, Insect PLA and Antimicrobial Ferroelectric Composites

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After Olivier van Herpt, Unfold Studio and others there is a new 3D printing clay effort in town. The Berlin based startup Geastar says that it 3D prints bowls made of clay water and salt that are single use. Inspired by Indian Kulhars which have been used for millennia. Bowls can be smashed or put in the trash and they say its environmentally friendly because it returns to the constituent materials its made of. They claim this is an environmentally friendly recycling method. I’m confused by this, ceramics have been able to do this for thousands of years? What does 3D Printing add to the equation? Why does it have to be discarded? If you just toss the material is it really recycling, I don’t think so. But, it is true that the materials are less harmful than polymers. Is it really a case of being environmentally friendly? The materials can be returned to the earth but we’d have to look at the amount of energy, transport and water that goes into this. What I do love is that they´ve sold over a million cups in Germany. So this is a high volume application for 3D printing. Also, I think that it would feel much more luxurious to hold a clay 3D printed cup than a plastic one so this may turn out to be a better marketing option for many brands. The company has raised $6.5 million to make this dream a reality.

In the paper, Characterization and Performance of Additive Manufactured Novel bio-waste Polylactic acid eco-friendly Composites, a team including Bright Brailson Mansingh, Joseph Selvi Binoj and others from India, Thailand and Singapore has found a way to make a sustainable, biodegradable material out of PLA mixed with chitosan and chitin from insects. The material has better ductility than PLA and the team thought that it would have applications in food packaging. Well, perhaps not for vegans. Also by also using PLA the product uses a lot of water already.

A new paper in Advanced Materials Technologies by researchers Zois Michail Tsikriteas and others at the University of Bath shows us how they made an antimicrobial ferroelectric composite (an electric field tunable meta composite). This could be used to make medical components such as implants and medical devices. The team has mixed barium calcium zirconate titanate (BCZT)  ferroelectric particles  in polycaprolactone (PCL). Subsequently structures are 3D printed that allow for a antimicrobial effect.

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