Curious about sustainable 3D printing and what options are available? Read on for some additional insights into bio-polymers – and new details on Xtellar’s unique line of bio-based 3D printing filaments.
What exactly is a biopolymer?
Put simply, a biopolymer is a polymer material created from naturally occurring feedstocks (raw materials). Most sources of biopolymers are made from a renewable resource and some even claim to be biodegradable. Key takeaway: a biopolymer is a polymer that's free of fossil fuels and is paving the way for a more sustainable option for 3D printing.
Why reach for a biopolymer?
Biopolymers are wildly versatile and typically have the same performance characteristics as their petroleum-filled counterparts. In addition to 3D printing, biopolymers are already being used in a diverse array of applications such as:
● Food packaging
● Healthcare and Cosmetics
● Medical implants and tissue scaffolding
● Textiles for clothing, towels, and carpets
● Interior and exterior parts for the automotive industry
However, the primary reason for most is clear: sustainability. With ever-increasing applications and demand for 3D printing, sustainability has entered the conversation and claimed a seat at the table. Biopolymers have the power to help significantly reduce the overall carbon footprint of 3D printing while maintaining similar performance standards of fossil fuel based thermoplastics.
Xtellar is leading the way to a more sustainable future.
Building on the success of their parent company Braskem, sustainable 3D materials is at the core of Xtellar’s mission. In 2022, Xtellar launched their first line of bio-based filaments for 3D printing. A flexible bio-based EVA filament, the first of its kind, it is made from sustainable sourced raw sugar cane as well as a bio-based polyethylene filament, both are available in 1.75mm and 2.85mm diameters:
● FL600EVA-BIO – the first bio based flexible filament of its kind with printability similar to other flexible filaments (TPUs) on the market.
● FL600PE-BIO – a Bio based PE (polyethylene) filament that is lightweight, has excellent chemical resistance, and is very durable.
Both of these 3D filaments are available in a natural opaque white color, additional colors may be available on request.
FL600EVA-BIO: Industry leading flexible Bio-Based EVA filament
Xtellar FL600EVA-BIO is a bio-based ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) 3D filament, derived from raw sugar care, providing a more sustainable alternative to traditional flexible materials available on the market. This low carbon footprint formulation delivers a unique combination of sustainability, flexibility, ductility, light weighting, and moisture resistance for direct drive printing 3D printing systems. Most flexible applications currently handled by materials such as TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) can easily be replaced with this more sustainable Bio-EVA 3D filament. FL600EVA-BIO
As far as Shore A hardness (a standard measurement of the hardness of polymers), Xtellar’s FL600EVA-BIO filament hit a mid-range score of 94. Other comparable 3D filaments on the market range from 63 to 120.
This stellar bio-EVA is perfect for a myriad of flexible applications, including:
● Clamps & Sockets
● Footwear and Fashion
● Airless tires
● Sports balls
FL600PE-BIO: Industry's first Bio-Based Polyethylene filament
Xtellar’s FL600PE-BIO is a bio-based polyethylene (PE) filament that also produces excellent
prints. This formulation is also derived from raw sugar care, providing a more sustainable alternative to existing materials available on the market. This low carbon footprint formulation is designed to be easy to print, lightweight, and highly moisture & chemical resistant.
As is expected with all material of this kind, you’ll need to be sure to follow the printing conditions provided. Using the proper print settings is key to managing any potential warpage - a distortion in the 3D print caused by changing temperatures across the piece. Of course, after a few test prints you will quickly develop a knack for selecting the right parameters.
This PE biopolymer can be used in most typical PE applications:
● Packaging items
● Rapid Prototypes
● Connections & Fittings
● Automotive parts