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Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
'Green' 3D Printing Materials
Greg M. Jung   4/25/2014 10:17:28 AM
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Good to see 'green' biodegradable materials being developed for the 3D printing industry.  I remember when 3D printing first came out, some of the materials used were toxic and skin contact was to be avoided before the curing process.  This new material development is an encouraging trend for our environment (especially as the world-wide use of 3D printing increases).

far911
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Silver
Re: 'Green' 3D Printing Materials
far911   4/26/2014 7:49:35 AM
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It is true that the materials were like non touchable in 3-D printers initially but now its material has improved suitable for the enviorment and healthy for the compaies business.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: 'Green' 3D Printing Materials
Nancy Golden   4/26/2014 11:01:42 PM
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That's also what caught my eye, Greg - seems like a perfect match and a needed one, considering the increasing presence of 3D printing as a viable technology for a lot of folks.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: 'Green' 3D Printing Materials
Elizabeth M   4/28/2014 8:59:04 AM
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i agree with both you and Greg, Ann, it is really cool when these trends come together. 3D printing is so promising it's also good to see more environmentally friendly materials entering the mix. And of course you are on top of bringing us the latest!

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: 'Green' 3D Printing Materials
Ann R. Thryft   4/28/2014 11:26:32 AM
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Greg, unfortunately many of the materials used for 3D printing are still toxic, at least to breathe, and that's one reason why I find it hard to believe consumers are going to adopt this in big numbers (I have lots of others, some of which are mentioned here http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9247857/Consumers_are_meh_about_3D_printers).

78RPM
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Gold
Compatibility?
78RPM   4/25/2014 11:55:10 AM
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Ann, I was wondering if the line is compatible with printers from various vendors of 3D printers. Do they have to offer a selection of diameters and melting points and cooling profiles? Another question I have is whether there are printers for the home market that have high enough resolution to print clear plastic with a reasonably specular surface. Can they print a pair of lenses for sunglasses -- or a model airplane canopy?

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Renewable 3D Materials
Greg M. Jung   4/26/2014 11:29:44 PM
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In addition to 'green' 3D materials, I can also see more and more 'renewable' 3D materials being developed too.  I believe that future formulations will be made from a higher percentage of renewable plastics (rather than from current, mostly petroleum-based polymers).

NadineJ
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Platinum
Re: Renewable 3D Materials
NadineJ   4/27/2014 9:46:35 AM
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The combination of ecological and technical advancements is a trend I first talked about 4 or 5 years ago.  I called it TechNatural back then.  It's good to see the confirmation.

But early in any new process there is a lot mislabeling.  My first question when reading this is how much energy (i.e. fossil fuel) is used to create the bioplastic formulation? 

Currently, 3D printing is energy intensive.  Can we call that green, renewable or even sustainable?  I think the next big innovation needed in this industry is in the process, not the materials.

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: Renewable 3D Materials
Cabe Atwell   4/27/2014 11:04:06 PM
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Thank your god of choice! It's about time!

C

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Renewable 3D Materials
Ann R. Thryft   4/28/2014 11:28:05 AM
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Thanks for that, Cabe. I totally agree.

Daniyal_Ali
User Rank
Iron
Re: Renewable 3D Materials
Daniyal_Ali   4/28/2014 6:44:59 AM
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Agreed Greg. It reminds me of Emerging Objects doing some similar sort of work. I love the feeling that we are moving away from wasteful resources and trying to utilize as much renewable components as possible and unite our ideas into environment friendly solutions.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Does it Last when you want it to last-?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/28/2014 11:16:29 AM
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So does the stuff only begin to degrade when placed in a landfill-?  How does its ability to "breakdown" relate to its strength for the printed product-? You certainly would not want a printed output model to have some sort of a half-life.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
Ann R. Thryft   4/28/2014 11:31:50 AM
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Jim, check out the company's website. There's a handy diagram and brief discussion here
http://www.sierraresins.com/sustainability.html
We've also discussed what happens to plastics in open landfills without additives and in landfill-to-energy operations with additives, in several DN articles.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
William K.   4/28/2014 8:58:49 PM
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It would be interesting to know how the material knows that it is in a landfill instead of someplace else, like my backpack or my pocket. Biodegradable materials that start to break down at the wrong time would be a big waste and a real problem. So what exactly does tell the plastic that it is in a landfill?

Possibly the real solution is to not put discards into landfills, but to recycle the materials. That might solve multiple problems.

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
NadineJ   4/28/2014 9:33:07 PM
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Consistent exposure to sun, the wind and the elements breaks down everything faster.  When companies tend to chart "breakdown in landfills" they're talking about open landfills, which hardly exist anymore.  We bury our garbage.  That slows down biodegradation--significantly.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
William K.   4/28/2014 9:51:52 PM
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Nadine, here in Michigan landfills are close to hermetically sealed. Typically with a plastic ground liner and a base of clay, and then another clay covering on top. The preservation is so good that a twenty year old hot dog has been identified. Landfills open to the elements, that have been in existance for many years seem to contain primarily old broken bottles and occasional chunks of rusted iron. So, really, the best choice would be to put the garbage in a methanne producing landfill, along with the domestic sewerage, and to recycle the rest. And rather than using high energy complex machinery for the recycling, let people scour the areas and pick out the materials to sell, such as glass, metals, and plastics.Free enterprise will always do this better than the typical poorly thought out government processes, and free enterprise would not waste our tax dollars.

NadineJ
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Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
NadineJ   4/29/2014 10:02:37 AM
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Landfills all over the US and Europe are underground.  Some countries in Europe even export their toxic waste to the US for burial. 

There's a lot of "green-washing" in many industries.  Biodegradable materials are lauded for breaking down quickly in landfills, but they don't break down quickly underground.  Since most landfills are underground, what's the truth?

I don't agree that free enterprise is always better than the government but things may be a little different here in California.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
William K.   4/30/2014 8:57:16 PM
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Nadine, California is one state where quite a few government decisions llok like they were made based primarily on emotions with little regard for facts. Of course that is seeing it from far away. Some states on the east coast are much worse for that, the closer to the capitol the worse off they are. 

And it is primarily in the programs that try to do things that are not really government resposibilities that it gets worse and worse.

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
NadineJ   4/30/2014 9:31:47 PM
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Good observation William.  Here many laws are passed by voter initiative.  Lots of money comes in for the campaigns, and emotions run high.  Our legislature seems to rarely weigh all options, think long term, debate and pass laws.

I think if people were better informed, they'd make better decisions.  I guess good information doesn't make a good campaign.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
William K.   4/30/2014 11:20:00 PM
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A good portion of my business is reasoning out the secondary and tertiary results of actions. Not that very difficult, sort of like the safety FMEA thing that some folks use. ZOnly it goes beyond that.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
Ann R. Thryft   4/29/2014 3:20:26 PM
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William, biodegradable and compostable plastics are often formulated to trigger breakdown when certain temperatures are reached, temperatures that only occur inside landfills under certain conditions. This company is known for making an additive that helps polymers break down, but not in any old landfills: specifically in landfills that are associated with landfill-to-energy operations. These are very different in several ways from open landfills used by consumers.
Reuse and recycling are usually considered the first best option, but not all plastics are recyclable.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Some good questions
Ann R. Thryft   4/29/2014 3:21:23 PM
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There are some good questions here from several people. I've contacted Sierra Resins' CEO and he expects to answer them soon.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/1/2014 9:35:13 AM
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Ann these are great points, and not easy solutions.  Thanks for laying them all out on the table.

I see from the Sierra website where the design-intent of the chemical resin is to be susceptible to microbe enzymes found in landfills.  I admire and support the engineering efforts, but clearly state the double-edge sword of "biodegradability", being that structural breakdown should not (cannot-!) begin while the product is still in its Use-Life-Cycle.

I think WilliamK made an excellent supposition, describing a back-pack hanging in a dark closet.  I imagine a bottle of Pepsi in that back pack could be very confused as to whether it was still in its Use-Life-Cycle, or if it had been tossed into EOL status.

I think a real breakthrough might be if there was a locked enzyme within the resin compound that could be chemically released to trigger the start of the decomposition cycle, once the physical product structure were to be crushed, broken, or fractured.  There is a missing link in this whole equation, being the catalyst to 'start the process'.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
Ann R. Thryft   5/1/2014 1:10:08 PM
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Jim, actually that Pepsi bottle wouldn't be at all confused: temperatures inside a backpack in a closet don't resemble temperatures in a landfill, which can be quite high. Biodegradable and compostable plastics are usually formulated to trigger breakdown when certain temperatures are reached, which only occur inside landfills under certain conditions.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
3D printing is not monolithic
Ann R. Thryft   5/1/2014 1:12:36 PM
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As we've pointed out in many blogs, 3D printing is faster, less expensive, and less energy-intense for many aerospace applications. Another blog covered a study showing that it can be both cheaper and greener for consumers printing plastic items:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=269539
So my point is that 3D printing is not monolithic. It depends on how one is measuring and what variables are being included. The problem with blanket statements about 3D printing being faster or slower, less or more green/sustainable, and less or more expensive than other manufacturing methods is that all of these can be true, depending on the process, materials, application, users, build volume, part quantities/build and total builds.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/1/2014 3:39:05 PM
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Thanks for clarifying, Ann – I was assuming the trigger was a particular temperature level, but then thought again that a bottle in a landfill, if buried deeply away from Sun & Weather, would mimic normal underground temperatures and hover around 55 degrees. But, on the contrary, I guess all that decomposition generates a lot of natural heat, doesn't it-?

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Does it Last when you want it to last-?
Ann R. Thryft   5/1/2014 4:39:15 PM
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Yes Jim, a LOT of heat. There are also other chemical conditions that pertain.  It's easy to find info about all this on Wikipedia and websites of the various companies that convert garbage to energy, as well as associations of those companies and organizations.





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