Researchers have discovered that bamboo may be a very promising material for using within 3D printing processes. A sustainable material that is also biodegradable, bamboo has many qualities that would make it a useful material for various additive manufacturing projects.
What is 3D Printing?
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process that allows people to create three-dimensional objects using a prototype on a computer. Engineers create the prototype of the object they want to print and then use a specific machine to complete the printing process.
The reason why it is referred to as additive manufacturing is that it is a process that involves laying down various levels of material to create an object. In contrast, traditional manufacturing is a subtractive process, where items are being removed, cut out, hollowed out or otherwise manipulated to form the intended object.
Types of materials that can be used for 3D printing include nylon, PLA, ABS, resin, stainless steel, gold, silver, ceramic, gypsum and more. Engineers and researchers spend a lot of time assessing various materials and their qualities before determining what will suit the project they are attempting to finish.
Bamboo and 3D Printing
A paper from the source HansPub indicates that bamboo has a lot of potential for use in additive manufacturing. The study prepared a series of bamboo plastic composites through extrusion and molding. Bamboo was used as the extrusion material within the process.
Bamboo is sustainable, which makes it a positive for any manufacturing use. It is also a very strong material that has a lot more toughness and hardness compared to wood.
Mixing Bamboo and Aluminate
Researchers took bamboo powder, dried it out and then mixed it with the aluminate coupling agent. By mixing these materials at high speed and plasticizing them, they were able to achieve the desired result and then test the mechanical properties of the parts.
When they compared the melt rate of the composite with and without the bamboo powder, they found that adding more bamboo relative to plastic was decreasing the melt index. The material was also found to be stronger due to the added bamboo.
One of the materials that would be useful for mixing with bamboo is polypropylene. The two would complement each other, with bamboo delivering the necessary toughness and impact strength, along with improved heat resistance.
Attractive and Strong
A large part of the usefulness of 3D printing is that it offers a sustainable, low cost and quicker alternative to traditional manufacturing. But there are many uses where the desired product is not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing.
Bamboo would help tremendously in such processes. For instance, any company that is producing souvenirs, decoration pieces, or furniture through additive manufacturing could benefit from using bamboo. It gives the printed items a very natural and wood-style finish.
Additive Manufacturing and Construction
The construction industry is not known for being the quickest to change. But there are many signs that additive manufacturing is making inroads into the construction sphere. There are already projects that involved 3D printed bridges, urban features and other sites.
And the Netherlands is taking the lead through its project to build the first habitable 3D printed houses in the world. The project will take place in Eindhoven, with the goal to have an entire, little community of 3D printed homes. It is expected for the first homes to go on the market at some point in 2019.
Adding bamboo to the additive manufacturing process would be a game changer in construction, especially of homes. It would make the buildings stronger, more heat resistance and a lot more attractive.