Sawdust, Seaweed, and Coffee? Marvel Labs’ Biomass 3D Printer Can Print it All

Metal AM Markets

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Marvel Labs, an innovative technology company founded in 2023, has pioneered an environmentally conscious application of 3D printing technology. Coming out of stealth mode in June, the company aims to redefine manufacturing by turning biomass waste streams into valuable resources.

Sustainable Binder Jet 3D Printing

Helmed by industry veteran Andrew Jeffery as co-founder and Chief Science Officer (CSO), Marvel Labs is set to disrupt the manufacturing landscape with its unique 3D printer. The machine, which uses binder jetting additive manufacturing (AM) technology, turns biomass materials into lightweight, robust parts.

“We’re using bio-based binders to jet onto the material to glue the particles together. And we’re using upcycling waste materials that would otherwise be landfilled,” Jeffery explained during a recent interview with 3DPrint.com.

The company’s breakthrough product can print with virtually any biomass, offering unparalleled flexibility. Materials successfully tested include sawdust, coffee grounds, and seaweed.

Jeffery highlighted the transformative potential of these often discarded materials, stating, “If the seaweed washing up on the beaches in Mexico ends up in a landfill, that’s just CO2 that goes into the atmosphere. So, being able to use them in products, everything we make will have a kind of CO2 sequestering number that customers can be aware of.”

Rematerialized sargassum seaweed into 3D printing material. Image courtesy of Marvel Labs.

But the innovation doesn’t stop at recycling waste materials. Because the Marvel Labs 3D printer uses bio-based binders, it has a positive effect on capturing carbon dioxide, thus helping to mitigate climate change.

According to Jeffery, the company’s strategy goes beyond simply manufacturing a machine. “We are developing an end-to-end solution for that. That would even involve creating designs that could be 3D printed through qualifying the raw material,” Jeffery noted. The company is aiming for a launch by the end of the year.

Sawdust turned into 3D printing material. Image courtesy of Marvel Labs.

Jeffery brings an impressive track record of entrepreneurship and 3D printing expertise to Marvel Labs. Before co-founding the company, he served as the CEO of Forust, a startup that 3D printed products from sawdust and was acquired by Desktop Metal in 2020. He also has experience in the ceramics 3D printing industry, having held executive roles at Boston Ceramics and founding Figulo Corporation, which was sold to 3D Systems in 2013, where Jeffery was Director of Ceramic Products until 2015. Jeffery’s contributions to the industry have marked him as a trailblazer in developing sustainable manufacturing technologies.

With Jeffery at the helm, Marvel Labs is promising a new way of doing things and setting the stage for sustainability at its core. He says, “Our technology offers the potential for everyone to have more without causing harm to our planet. It’s an entirely new paradigm, and we’re just at the beginning of its discovery.”

Marvel Labs Co-founder and CSO Andy Jeffery.

Marvel Labs’ new printer is priced at $100,000, with an additional cost of $10,000 for its proprietary software. It offers a print box with dimensions of 14.5 x 10 x 9.75 inches and a capacity of 12.5 gallons per day. The printer features a 400 DPI printhead with multiple precise, detailed print options. Aside from supporting certified powders like sawdust, seaweed, and used coffee grounds, it has certified binders such as sugar-based, starch-based, and lignin-based options. With dimensions of 5.75 x 4 x 5.5 feet and a weight of 1,000 pounds, this printer ensures stability and durability for reliable AM capabilities.

Achieving ESG Goals

Marvel Labs has begun taking pre-orders for its 3D printer, and if this sustainability-focused business model is any indication, it seems ready to make a significant impact. Several studies have shown companies seek more environmentally responsible material sourcing, as they recognize the importance of sustainable and responsible sourcing practices to meet consumer demands, reduce environmental impact, and ensure their long-term business remains strong.

For example, the Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report reveals that consumer demand for sustainable products drives companies to prioritize responsible sourcing, with 73% of global consumers stating they would “definitely” or “probably” change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact. Similarly, the State of Green Business Report – published annually by GreenBiz – recently emphasized how businesses integrate sustainable supply chains and circular economy initiatives into their strategies for long-term success. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Procurement Barometer, conducted by EcoVadis, suggests that companies are considering factors like ethical sourcing and environmental impact when selecting suppliers, indicating a shift towards more environmentally responsible material sourcing practices.

Fueled by anticipating cost reductions, carbon emissions, and labor, customers will likely find Marvel Labs’ 3D printer exciting. Jeffery suggests that “our technology has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. It’s not just about saving costs; it’s about creating a more sustainable world.”

Repurposed used coffee grains into 3D printing material. Image courtesy of Marvel Labs.

In addition to Marvel Labs, several other companies are making significant strides in circular economy projects, like FORAY Bioscience. Founded by MIT mechanical engineer Ashley Beckwith, the startup focuses on developing new techniques and methods for growing wood without cutting down trees. Instead, it grows plant matter from common zinnia cells, a promising first step in sustainable wood production. Like Jeffery, Beckwith has ambitious plans, as she is actively working towards 3D printing timber in a laboratory setting using cells derived from trees like pine. 3D printing timber could revolutionize the wood industry and make deforestation a thing of the past.

With its unique approach to manufacturing and commitment to sustainability, and by harnessing the power of biomass, Marvel Labs is well-positioned to help the industry shift towards sustainable 3D printing, reimagining how we produce, use, and dispose of limited resources. With global concerns about climate change at their worst, a company with a mission to “develop responsible material value chains” arrives just in time. However, we will know even more about these new 3D printers once they are entirely manufactured by the end of the year.

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