Using Coffee, Orange Peels and Other Waste as 3D Printing Materials

What if the skin from your apple, pear or banana, or your left over coffee granules could be made into useful material? 

They can be, in the form of bioplastics for 3d printing.

Researchers are exploring the possibilities of using food waste as a new material for production in what they are calling a "cradle-to-cradle" approach.  

“More than a substance, plastic is the very idea of infinite transformation; as its everyday name indicates, it is ubiquity made visible. And it is this, in fact, which makes it a miraculous substance: a miracle is always a sudden transformation of nature," said Roland Barthes, a French intellectual.

Bioplastics 3d printing

High brow? Yes, but also true.  Transforming materials into plastics for production gives them new life and produces less waste for our planet.

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has been researching applications of biomaterial for architectural purposes, looking at it's cost savings, accessibility, weight properties, toxicity levels, strength, flexibility and other properties.

The researchers in Spain put a particular focus on locally available materials, including orange and shrimp peels.

It turns out that cellulose, a material found in orange peels, is significant as a structural component within many cell walls of plants, giving it high temperatures resistance and strength.

Coffee grains tends to be water resistant and researchers also found the base material to provide flexible properties.

Bioplastics 3d printing

The next stage of testing was to develop a material that combines the beneficial characteristics of the orange and coffee bio plastics to generate a compound material.

Aside from orange peels and coffee, other food waste can be turned into bioplastics and the Spanish researchers believe this is particularly useful for self sufficient cities, where local waste would be taken from collection points and developed into plastics.


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