The 3D printer filament space is ripe with innovation. As the number of desktop 3D printers sold annually is expected to top 400,000 this year and 1.3 million by 2018, the market for filament is bound to see tremendous growth as new startups enter the space, and old players invest in R&D to stand out from the crowd.
The majority of thermoplastics on the market are not exactly great for the environment. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) for instance, is made out of oil and can be incredibly harmful to the environment. PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is much better for the environment, being that it’s created from plant-based resources like sugar cane or corn starch. With that said, PLA still takes several lifetimes to break down in a landfill or in our oceans, with estimates ranging from 100-1000 years. So are there alternatives?
3D Fuel, based out of Las Vegas Nevada, is a producer of 100% ‘Made in America’ filament. They offer a variety of filaments at competitive prices, and recently launched their ‘Fuel in a Box‘ product which allows 3D printing enthusiasts to utilize a continuous run of filament as large as 20kg.
ALGIX on the other hand, is a leader when it comes to producing sustainable bio-plastic composites. Based in Meridian, MS, and founded in 2010, the company is known for their innovative methods of producing sustainable products using aquaculture and water remediation. Solaplast, their line of algae blended plastic resins, is probably one of their more remarkable offerings. It’s these plastics which ALGIX decided, may be perfect for turning into filament for 3D printing.
“We saw 3D Fuel as an emerging leader in this industry who wanted to add a more earth friendly filament to its core product offering, which we are able to provide through our Solaplast algae filament and sustainable business practices,” says Michael Van Drunen, C.E.O. of ALGIX. “Both companies commitment to excellence in both manufacturing and research and development was a clear indicator that our Joint Venture would be a huge success. With our core values being very synergistic, we know our customers will see the difference in not just our product offerings, but the principles in our business practices that we bring to the 3D printing market.”
The companies will work together to bring forth cutting edge filament which is not only eco-friendly but also of the utmost quality. Although pricing or a date for when these filaments will be made available has yet to be announced, this is exciting news for all of us within the 3D printing space.
“We remain committed to our clients, consumers and to the environment as we grow and expand our business model,” says Steve Gall, 3D Fuel Co-Founder. “We fully understand that things change quickly in this industry and that we need to be responsive to new technologies and products that impact our business. At the same time we’ll continue to manufacture innovative 3D printer fuels and set unprecedented industry standards for quality and excellence.”
Their is no doubt that plastics are a major cause for concern on this Earth Day. There are over 5 trillion plastic particles floating in our oceans, or 4-12 million metric tons. These numbers grow by the day and the printing of plastic trinkets, many of which go directly into the trash, is not exactly helping the situation. Let’s hope that 3D Fuel and ALGIX’s new filament line will be a success and perhaps attract additional investment dollars to the industry.
Let’s hear your thoughts on this filament. Discuss in the Algae Filament forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below to hear more about this new filament: