Out in the hinterlands between Brandenburg and metropolitan Berlin, Brian Crotty and Thorsten Perl say their company, BioInspiration, is the first step into what the pair call “Organic Material Evolution,” the development of materials and processes they say follow nature’s lead and result in compostable, upcyclable, harmless, innovative, and resilient 3D printing filaments.
Their WillowFlex filament uses a base component they say is non-GMO corn starch, and the result is a unique elastomeric bioplastic made from compostable raw materials which have met the requirements for ASTM D6400 and EN 13432 standards for compostability.
“Over millions of years, nature developed a variety of starch based elastomers,” they say on a recently launched Kickstarter campaign. “Eco-Chemistry is slowly catching up. BioInspiration’s ‘Beta Test’ is WillowFlex for 3D Printing. After all – there is no better chemist then Mother Nature.”
Through their WillowFlex and a coming Willow Filament line to follow in the coming months, BioInspiration says their product “will set a new baseline for filaments used in sensitive environments such as schools, homes and kitchen, and medical applications.”
The key to the concept is the idea that the BioInspiration filaments “will return to the earth without any harmful effects.” And they add that their WillowFlex is more than just eco-friendly, it’s capable as well. The WillowFlex line can maintain its structural integrity at temperatures in excess of 100° C. They’ve also tested sample 3D printed WillowFlex boxes in a freezer to make ice cubes for the last three months, and they say those objects have easily withstood the freezing and defrosting cycle and retained flexibility at -15° C.
BioInspiration worked with a pair of well-known production partners to create WillowFlex: Green Dot, a bioscience social enterprise in Kansas, and 3dk.berlin in Germany, a firm with 30 years of professional experience in plastic production and extrusion.
BioInspiration has completed the initial testing and an alpha production run of WillowFlex which is currently being used for 3D printing tests. Several iterations of the formula have been completed aimed at optimizing it for 3D printing uses.
WillowFlex can be used at extruder temperatures of 175-185° C, on a cooled bed at a recommended print speed of 50-70 mm per second. The material is available in a filament diameter of 1.75mm on 300 gram spools.
The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund further development of WillowFlex, and you can review the reward for a commitment to the project here. The goal is to raise €8,450 in funding by the campaign’s end on September 1, and backers can receive various spools of the filament as thanks for their support.
Will you make a commitment to the WillowFlex Compostable Filament project on Kickstarter? Let us know in the Compostable Filament forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the WillowFlex Kickstarter video below, as well as more images of the filament.