UBQ Materials wins 2022 SXSW award for waste-based 3D printing filament

Thermoplastics materials developer UBQ Materials has won the Speculative Design category at the 24th annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Innovation Awards for its waste-based 3D printing filament.

The material is the first waste-based 3D printing material made with UBQ, the company’s ‘climate positive’ thermoplastic, which was designed to enable additive manufacturing with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

“3D printing enables manufacturers across industries the option to design complex products with near immediate customizations that otherwise might be impossible to produce using conventional manufacturing methods,” said Tato Bigo, Co-CEO and Co-founder of UBQ Materials.

“The use of UBQ in the printing filament offers manufacturers the ability to gain the benefits of 3D printing, while capitalizing on the reduced carbon footprint enabled by UBQ.”

UBQ Materials has won the 2022 SXSW Innovation Award for Speculative Design. Photo via UBQ Materials.
UBQ Materials has won the 2022 SXSW Innovation Award for Speculative Design. Photo via UBQ Materials.

Converting waste into thermoplastics

UBQ Materials has developed a patented advanced conversion technology that takes household waste from landfill sites and transforms it into a thermoplastic material that it claims is “infinitely renewable”, called UBQ. 

UBQ can substitute oil-based resins for additive manufacturing and is reportedly suited to a wide range of applications, product sectors, and industries. The firm’s Israel-based industrial plant is capable of producing 5,000 tons of UBQ per year, and is currently supplying the thermoplastic to local manufacturers.

In May last year, the company partnered with polymers and plastics R&D firm Plastics App to develop a novel 3D printing UBQ-based filament. The filament is designed to make the 3D printing of functional applications like jigs, fixtures, and spare parts, more sustainable.

Winning the SXSW Speculative Design category

SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate forward-thinking projects within technology, film, music, education and culture, and has previously featured a number of 3D printing innovations. The SXSW Innovation awards run alongside the conference, with the likes of maker platform Wevolver previously being named a winner.

This year, UBQ Materials was one of just 15 winners out of hundreds of applications to be given an award. Each entry was graded on four criteria, namely creativity, form, function, and overall experience.

UBQ took first place in the Speculative Design category, which seeks to recognize designs that address the challenges, opportunities, and possibilities of the future. Fellow finalists in the category included a biometric ignited solo blade from SOLO Secure, Coldsnap’s Flash Freeze Premium Ice Cream, the Katalyst training system by Katalyst Interactive, and XEDEC Tri-Screen by Xebec. 

“With this innovation, 3D printing may become the most environmentally conscious means of production available,” said Bigio. “We are thrilled that the SXSW Innovation Awards judging panel recognized this significant achievement and are incredibly proud to have been named the winner in this category.”

Sustainable innovations in AM materials

UBQ Materials is not the only materials firm to be recognized for its sustainability efforts. Fishy Filaments won the TÜV SÜD Sustainability in Additive Manufacturing category in last year’s 3D Printing Industry Awards, for its efforts in turning recycled nylon fishing nets into 3D printing filament

Czech 3D printing filament producer Fillamentum also took home the 3D Printing Industry Material Company of the Year Award for its 100 percent biodegradable filament for 3D printing, NonOilen.

The past year or so has seen numerous other environmentally-minded innovations regarding materials come to the fore, such as the launch of Recreus’ eco-friendly TPU filament made entirely from recycled footwear and in-house waste, and Covestro and Polymaker’s new material partially made from recycled plastic bottles. In February, KIMYA announced plans to extend its recycled filament range to include new high-performance materials by 2024.

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Featured image shows UBQ Materials has won the 2022 SXSW Innovation Award for Speculative Design. Photo via UBQ Materials.