Thermoplastic materials developer UBQ Materials has teamed up with polymers and plastics R&D company Plastics App to develop and launch a novel 3D printing filament converted from landfill-destined waste.
The companies claim the filament has a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to oil-based filaments, and that it will aid in achieving more sustainable and eco-conscious manufacturing.
“Combining our end-to-end filament development capabilities with UBQ’s climate-positive material has opened sustainable opportunities for industries like automotive and housing, where fully functional prototyping is an essential part of both R&D and small-scale production,” said Dr. Yanir Shaked, Founder and General Manager of Plastics App.
“Using eco-conscious material to 3D print functional prototypes from the early stages of development helps companies meet their sustainability goals without compromising on product functionality.”
Converting landfill waste into thermoplastics
Since its foundation in 2012, UBQ Materials has developed a patented advanced conversion technology that diverts residual household waste from landfill sites, such as food waste, soiled cardboard, paper, and mixed plastics, and transforms it into an ‘infinitely renewable’ thermoplastic material, UBQ.
UBQ is engineered to substitute oil-based resins for manufacturing and is reportedly suitable for a wide variety of applications, product sectors, and industries.
The thermoplastic has been adopted and incorporated into end-use products by the likes of automotive corporation Daimler, resin-based consumer goods producer Keter Plastics, and the Arcos Dorados McDonald’s franchise in Latin America.
Equipped with a capacity of 5,000 tons per year, the company’s Israel-based industrial plant is currently supplying UBQ to local manufacturers, while its R&D activities include developing new generations of the thermoplastic material, establishing a global intellectual property (IP) portfolio, and expanding the scope of applications for UBQ across a range of industries.
According to the UBQ Materials, leading environmental impact assessment provider Quantis has qualified UBQ as the “most climate-positive material in the market”, and the firm is also a recipient of the 2020 Future of Plastics Award and 2020 Quality Innovation Award.
Optimizing UBQ for 3D printing
Looking to further improve sustainability within the 3D printing sector through reducing the carbon footprint of materials, Plastics App has teamed up with UBQ Materials to develop a thermoplastic UBQ-based 3D printable filament.
The filament is designed to make the 3D printing of functional applications such as jigs, fixtures, and spare parts more sustainable, but also has many other potential applications across a variety of industries.
UBQ will be incorporated into four types of carbon-reduced 3D printing filaments, including Perform Q, a high-performance UBQ-Polypropylene filament suitable for standard applications, and Perform QCF, a carbon fiber-reinforced UBQ-Polypropylene-based filament designed for more demanding applications.
“Introducing 3D printing filaments to the market enables UBQ to test the limits and go beyond the boundaries of traditional plastic manufacturing techniques,” said Tato Bigio, Co-founder and CEO of UBQ Materials. “The versatile applications of UBQ allow for its incorporation into a wide range of products, decreasing emissions and preventing landfill build up.
“The partnership will expand the scope of companies that can refine their processes while reducing their energy use.”
Creating 3D printing materials from waste
On the whole, 3D printing is largely considered a more environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional manufacturing techniques, however there are several ways in which the sector can improve upon its eco-friendly credentials. Developing methods for more sustainable material production is one of these areas of focus, and there are a number of developments underway to accelerate such efforts.
For instance, Amsterdam-based 3D printing filament vendor Reflow launched a range of eco-friendly ‘Seaglass’ translucent materials in September last year, which are made from locally sourced plastics.
The following month, a project funded by the European Union, BARBARA, concluded four years of research into producing bio-based 3D printing materials from food waste and agricultural by-products such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and corn. The next stage of the project is to scale-up its R&D efforts to achieve semi-industrial level.
Earlier this year, Spain-based 3D printing materials producer Recreus launched a flexible TPU filament that is 100 percent recycled and made up of waste material from the footwear industry and the company’s own in-house production processes.
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Featured image shows UBQ Materials and Plastics App have partnered to launch a novel 3D printing filament made from recycled landfill waste and Polypropylene. Image via UBQ Materials.