ORNL Materials – Printing with Plants

By Kim Askey  | ORNL News | askeyka@ornl.gov

 

A scalable processing technique developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) uses plant-based materials for 3D printing and offers a promising additional revenue stream for biorefineries.

Scientists created a new material with excellent printability and performance by tapping into lignin—a key component of plant cell walls that provides sturdiness. Lignin is a current byproduct of the biofuels process that could become a valuable coproduct with this new use.

The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bowland/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bowland/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

The method combines lignin, rubber, carbon fiber and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS—commonly used in plastic toys—to 3D print structures with 100 percent improved weld strength between the layers over ABS alone. “To achieve this, we are building on our experience with lignin during the last five years,” said ORNL’s Amit Naskar. “We will continue fine tuning the material’s composition to make it even stronger.”

Researchers at ORNLO developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material. (Photo courtesy of Ngoc Nguyen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

Researchers at ORNLO developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material. (Photo courtesy of Ngoc Nguyen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

The research team published details about the patent-pending process in Applied Materials Today.

About ORNL
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE’s Office of Science. The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://science.energy.gov/.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

Source: ORNL

 

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