If you do a lot of 3D printing, you probably have used ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) before, or been around others who do. While there has been some debate over the safety of ABS, and research is continuing, one thing many people notice is ABS’s stink while it is being printed.
Some people it doesn’t bother, others it bothers quite a bit. I personally fall in the middle, in that it doesn’t give me headaches (as some have complained), but I definitely do not care for its odor. As a result, I almost exclusively use PLA in my lab, but the trouble is that PLA can be too stiff and brittle for some applications, so you need to use ABS sometimes.
Well you can imagine my excitement when we heard from Kim Youngsoo, Management Team Leader at BnK, that they had a new type of filament designed to replace ‘standard’ ABS! I say ‘standard’ ABS because, as he explained it, their new filament is still ABS-based, but they have managed to drastically reduce several of the toxic chemicals used in ABS’s recipe, especially the styrene.
According to Mr. Kim, their new filament contains a whopping 81.1% less styrene than normal ABS! He was also sure to make certain that we knew that several other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had also been drastically reduced.
BnK (which stands for ‘Books & Kimchi’, kind of a cheeky name for a Korean chemical company) is a specialty plastics manufacturer based in Ulsan, South Korea. They were founded in 2009 to provide specialty products to the Korean automotive industry and created several groundbreaking polymer products, including surface coatings, foam products, architectural panels, as well as several others.
In 2013, they entered the 3D printing materials market and this past February they introduced an anti-microbial PLA-based filament called ‘Purement’ which is now being sold world-wide. Their website can be found at: bnktech.kr and it’s in English.
When we spoke to Mr. Kim back in 2013, he told us that he could see that there were several applications that 3D printing could be put to, and that new and innovative feedstocks were needed. He told us that it was his company’s intent to explore this pioneering area and develop new products. He also told us that he wanted BnK to become a “solution provider in the 3D printing materials field.” At the time, it wasn’t really clear to us exactly what he meant by that statement, but now it is.
By focusing on not just developing completely new types of materials, but by also examining and improving older materials, his company really is becoming a ‘solution provider’ helping to solve some of those issues that so many of us in the 3D printing world have just accepted as part of process.
How many enclosure designs have we seen, how many filtration ideas have come and gone, yet this is the first time we have seen someone tackle the very source of the trouble directly.
We have been told that the new filament, named ‘Zeroment’, is expected out later this December, and I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on a roll or two and give it a try! You can be sure that, just as soon as we have run it through our machines, we will be giving you the low-down on its performance.