Evonik’s New Nylon 12 3D Printing Material Made from Waste Cooking Oil


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Evonik has announced the release of a sustainable PA 12 powder bed fusion (PBF) material, which uses waste cooking oil instead of petroleum as its feedstock. This significant development is underscored by the company’s claim that the resulting material yields 74 percent fewer CO2 emissions compared to its own castor oil-based polyamides. Such a statement subtly suggests to its French material competitor Arkema that Evonik believes its material has a superior sustainability profile in terms of CO2 emissions. For enthusiasts like me, it’s thrilling to witness Evonik and Arkema competing with eco-friendly 3D printing materials.

3D Printing Circularity
Named INFINAM eCO PA12, this innovative material is labeled as a circular resource and is set to be featured at Formnext (12.1 C39). Evonik points out that restaurants use over 15 million tonnes of cooking oil, and in certain regions, a portion of this oil is repurposed into biodiesel or other commodities. Now, this waste oil can find a new purpose as a 3D printing material.

“True circularity is key for being successful in the future. As a pioneer for polymer-based 3D printing materials, Evonik has developed a formula for its PA12 powders to drive circular plastics economy in additive manufacturing. With the introduction of INFINAM® eCO PA12, we go far beyond chemistry to start closing the loop, and meet the market’s expectations for a better future,” Dominic Störkle, Head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik, said.

Beyond its environmental advantages, INFINAM eCO PA12 may also prove beneficial for businesses. Evonik touts a 100% reusability rate for support, along with a 70/30 refresh rate, where 70% is composed of used material and 30% of new material, maintaining its mechanical properties over multiple cycles.

The company has undertaken comprehensive life cycle assessments for its various PA grades, examining factors like water and land utilization. The manufacturing of this powder incorporates renewable energy sources. Moreover, Evonik has aspirations to further increase the recyclability of used powder in the coming years. PA 12 continues to dominate as the most sought-after PBF material.

The shift toward sustainability is evident among major corporations, with many now factoring sustainability into performance bonuses and job roles. Large automotive and industrial companies are making genuine strides in sustainability. Adopting green practices in prototyping or small-scale production is often more feasible than overhauling entire manufacturing processes. Consequently, many firms initiate their sustainable journey in prototyping or short production runs.

This transition places a responsibility on materials companies to develop greener alternatives. By diversifying their resources and reducing reliance on volatile oil prices, materials firms can find stability, especially if waste cooking oil offers consistent availability and pricing. Furthermore, adopting greener production methods not only minimizes a company’s environmental impact but also positions it favorably in the eyes of environmental advocates, potentially spurring demand for its products in the future.

In my interactions with designers and consumer-centric companies, there’s been a tangible enthusiasm for Arkema’s PA 11 materials. It’s not only pleasant to acknowledge but also to share. Many appreciate the compelling narrative it offers for their products. Now, with Evonik introducing an alternative that comes with its own appealing marketing narrative, I anticipate a surge in interest, especially in crafting sunglasses from waste cooking oil. This progression is commendable, and I’m optimistic about witnessing a plethora of sustainable materials that position 3D printing as a genuinely circular technology.

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