As our planet continues to deal with the ever-growing amount of plastic and waste that human consumption produces, alternatives must be considered to replace certain materials. Which is why researchers in Brazil are interested in not only the benefits of 3D printing but the advantages of PLA’s biodegradability for easy recycling. PLA known as polylactic acid is a non-toxic thermoplastic material that is biodegradable due to its plan-based origins. Researchers hope that their findings will motivate businesses to consider PLA as an option when it comes to 3D printing, a biodegradable material that will help dimish their footprint.
To analyze the PLA material; researchers collected PLA from a local 3D printing services bureau for recycling. The material was separated out by color and dried. Then granules and jute were added to the PLA material. Finally, the material was melted and analyzed.
“The addition of lignocellulosic reinforcements to thermoplastic polymers is environmentally interesting,” stated the researchers. “The wood waste can return to the production chain and can generate new products when added to thermoplastic resins. The jute fiber mainly used in packaging can now be able to generate other products with PLA biopolymer.”
“Considering the problem of the increase of materials waste generated from 3D printing, a process that tends to become popular, and few researches were found in the literature focusing on the recycling of these materials, this work contributed to the identification the residue of PLA discarded in the digital manufacturing activities as a possible raw material for new products through the recycling process.”
“The waste recycling of 3D printing is a sustainability alternative for this activity; As future research it is proposed to carry out physical and mechanical characterization of the samples made from the recycled PLA,” concluded the researchers.
Although recycling is an ongoing conversation around the world, it is especially emphasized in the industry of 3D printing where a wide range of plastics and other materials are used and often discarded. Which is why researchers around the globe are engaged in innovative projects to find solutions that will help reduce waste.