Sustainable resins for 3D printing

3D printing has revolutionized design, prototyping, and manufacturing. 3D printing reduces time from the design board to the finalized product and can cut down on waste from slow iterative product development. In some applications, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, reduces material consumption, while fabricating parts locally lowers freight costs, both economically and environmentally.
However, most 3D printers use non-recyclable, non-degradable materials to print. Additionally, these inks and resins incorporate harsh chemicals like organic solvents. There is a need to make 3D printing more sustainable.
Vegetable-oil-based resins appear as an alternative to synthetic acrylic resins commonly used in light-based 3D printers [1]. Recently, engineers have functionalized commercially available vegetable oils (like those found at the supermarket) into reactive inks without harsh organic solvents for light-based 3D printers [2].

Photographs of the printed structures: (a) plant and infinity ring using canola oil-based inks and (b) helical sculpture and sunflower made of sunflower oil-based inks [2].

In this semester project, the student will adapt these degradable vegetable-oil-based resins to a tomographic volumetric printer. The student will characterize the printability of the material and (if time permits) contribute in the development of natural alternatives to other components of 3D printing inks.
The student should have strong interests in additive manufacturing/3D printing and sustainability. Strong experience with chemistry is not necessary.

Jorge Madrid ([email protected])
Christophe Moser ([email protected])

[1] Maines, Erin M., et al. “Sustainable advances in SLA/DLP 3D printing materials and processes.” Green Chemistry (2021).
[2] Vazquez-Martel, Clara, et al. “Vegetable Oils as Sustainable Inks for Additive Manufacturing: A Comparative Study.” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 9.49 (2021): 16840-16848.