Coffee is utilized to offer sustainable materials for 3D printing.


As additive manufacturing continues to evolve, there is a growing interest in creating environmentally friendly materials for 3D printing. One individual leading the charge in sustainability is Michael Rivera, an assistant professor at the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. His goal is to develop recycled filament and green materials that are reusable, biodegradable, and easy to make.

The research carried out by Rivera and his team aims to find sustainable production solutions that can reduce energy consumption, plastic use, and waste in the 3D printing industry. Currently, many plastics used in consumer 3D printing end up as waste. PLA, a biodegradable plastic, can only decompose in specialized industrial composting facilities, while ABS is recyclable but not biodegradable. This means that these plastics, along with coffee grounds and other waste products, often find their way into landfills where they can take thousands of years to decompose.

Rivera had a novel idea to tackle this problem while also reducing plastic waste – using coffee grounds. The inspiration came during the COVID-19 pandemic when a local coffee shop stopped collecting donated coffee grounds for composting and started throwing them away. Rivera saw an opportunity and decided to see if he could do something with the discarded coffee grounds.

The research team at UC Boulder tested various objects made with 3D printed coffee grounds. Some objects, such as planters, even provided additional benefits by enriching the soil with nutrients as they degrade. To create their 3D printable mixture, the team combined the coffee grounds with easily accessible ingredients like xanthan and cellulose gum, plant-based thickening agents commonly found in food products. They then used a modified 3D printer to extrude the coffee mixture, creating solid and durable creations.

The applications for these coffee-based 3D prints are diverse, ranging from planters and jewelry concepts to coffee cups. What’s more impressive is the reusability of these creations – when no longer needed, they can be ground up and reused in the 3D printing process again.

Through projects like this, Rivera and his team aim to showcase zero-waste solutions that are accessible for people to use in their own homes. They hope that their work will inspire further exploration into sustainable 3D printing materials.

Using coffee grounds to 3D print new objects is an innovative and environmentally friendly approach. It not only repurposes a common waste material but also reduces reliance on traditional plastics. This research by Rivera and his team is a step in the right direction, offering a glimpse into a more sustainable future for 3D printing.

What are your thoughts on using organic materials like coffee grounds for 3D printing? Share your opinion in the comments below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! And don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter to get the latest 3D printing news delivered straight to your inbox. You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: Michael Rivera, University of Colorado Boulder

Original source


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