We have previously told you about GREENFILL3D, a Polish startup that develops ecological and biodegradable materials for 3D printing. In particular, he developed a wheat bran-based filament, GF3D Branfill3D. This material was created in accordance with modern concepts of zero waste and circular economy: wheat bran is a production waste from pasta manufacturing. From this filament, the startup 3D printed its own POS (Point of Sale), in which the pasta containers will be presented and sold. This project is developed in collaboration with the MASPEX group, one of the largest food producers in Europe. To find out more about the work of the company and its filaments, we met with its director, Pawel Slusarczyk.
3DN: Could you introduce yourself and your connection to 3D printing?
My name is Pawel Slusarczyk and I have been working in the 3D printing industry for over 9 years. In January 2013, he founded Centrum Druku 3D, the largest 3D printing site in Poland, which has helped develop the Polish additive manufacturing industry. All major Polish companies such as Zortrax, Sinterit, Zmorph, Omni3D, 3DGence, Technology Applied, Spectrum Filaments, Fiberlogy and many others made their debut on our site. I have many years of experience in implementing innovative projects: in 2019, we created our own 3D bioprinters, called SKAFFOSYS, and subsequently launched a 3D bioprinting laboratory in Poland. In 2020, this project was separated from our company and continued by another independent team.
3DN: How did the idea of creating GREENFILL3D come about? What is your mission?
In 2021, we established a cooperation with the MASPEX Group, the largest food producer in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. MASPEX Group contacted us with the idea of creating advertising materials from their waste. The company had different post-production waste, both organic (vegetable waste, wheat bran, etc…) and cardboard and plastic. In the end, we settled on wheat bran, from which we decided to produce a filament for FDM/FFF technology. In July 2021, we signed a formal cooperation agreement and started the research and development process.
We decided to immediately separate this project from CD3D and in July 2021 we created a new independent company: GREENFILL3D. We also participate in an EU project, ScaleUp, which provided us with adequate funding for research and development. In addition, we were invited to cooperate with PAN (Polish Academy of Sciences), the largest and most prestigious scientific institution in Poland, with whom we already collaborated on the 3D bioprinter project. Together we developed a unique chemical blend of wheat bran, PLA, and other chemical compounds, all of which are completely biodegradable!
In conclusion, our mission is to search for environmentally friendly materials, with a focus on bioplastics that are truly biodegradable and compostable. At the same time, we look for applications in which the use of these materials is functional and makes sense; We are aware that, for the time being, bioplastics cannot replace, for example, polyamides or polycarbonate. We look for objects that can be printed, for example with wheat bran, but that are still functional. We do not want to impose bioplastics where they are not suitable.
3DN: What are the main benefits of turning wheat waste into filaments for 3D printing? What are your limitations?
Wheat bran has some fantastic and amazing properties. At the beginning of the project we were very concerned that the filament would be brittle and break, but because the bran is fibrous, the finished 3D prints are flexible, not like polypropylene or TPU, but they don’t break easily. While testing our stands, we loaded a rack with a few pounds; over the course of a week, the shelf and sidewalls flexed a lot, but didn’t break. Also, when we rotated the shelf 180 degrees and applied the same weight to it, it straightened out in 2-3 days and then bent the other way. But there was no evidence of cracks.
In addition to the physical properties of wheat bran in the form of a filament, the idea of using production waste and turning it into a 3D printing material, from which we create supports to promote the pasta with which it is made, is fascinating.
As for the limitations, they are very few and I think they are easy to solve. At the moment, you have to use a 3D printer with a larger diameter nozzle: 0.5 – 0.6 – 0.8mm; Of course, we are able to print the filament with a diameter of 0.4mm, but with larger diameters, we are sure that the material will come out correctly. At the moment we only have 1.75mm diameter filament, which is not very suitable for the Bowden extruder, so we only recommend the direct extruder. However, we are thinking of using 2.85mm filament and will try it out, for example, on an Ultimaker or BCN3D, and I’m sure the problem with the Bowden extruder will be fixed.
3DN: Do you at GREENFILL3D plan to develop other filaments from food waste in the future?
Yes, of course. At GREENFILL3D we have a detailed roadmap for future R&D actions. First, we want to increase the percentage of wheat bran use to 40% on the production scale, and then develop something new. We will probably still use wheat bran, but the other ingredients will be different. There are many interesting bioplastics to try.
3DN: Where do you see the future of zero waste in 3D printing?
Everywhere. In recent months, I have been exploring in depth the subject of the production of plastics from ecological materials and I can assure you that there is not a single major chemical company in the world that is not doing research in this area. We are on the verge of a great revolution in plastics, many of which are based on the concept of zero waste. The effects will be visible in a few years but it is true and inevitable.
For now, industrial 3D printing is far from green. Everyone is working to replace metals with high-performance plastics, but not forever. Recycling these plastics seems better in theory than in practice: worldwide, only 10% of plastic waste is recycled, with the rest going to landfill or floating in the seas and oceans.
Until this problem is solved on a large scale, and here we are talking about gigantic waste factories, GREENFILL3D believes that the best solution is bioplastics, which are designed to break down naturally from the start. Of course, all this applies not only to 3D printing, which is still a niche, but to all plastics in the world.
3DN: Any last words for our readers?
Be responsible when you 3D print at home or at your workplace. If it is not absolutely necessary, try to use environmentally friendly materials. Also think about the common use of plastics in everyday life. People are worried about dying from COVID-19, when the real threat is the plastic that is inundating us everywhere. This is one of many real threats that hardly anyone is aware of. Read, think and consider making some changes. Don’t wait for others to do it. You can learn more about our projects on our website HERE.
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*Cover photo credits: GREENFILL3D