People all over the world are waking up to the damage that plastic is causing to the environment. It is part of a global epidemic of waste, causing havoc to shorelines everywhere from the Channel to the Far East. The manufacture of plastic is damaging too, pumping out dangerous chemicals into our atmosphere and waterways. In this post, we explore how plastic production can be changed for the better through 3D printing.
What Are 3D Printing Plastics?
Unlike traditional plastics, 3D printed plastics are extremely versatile and can range from durable and solid to fragile and delicate. They can be hard-wearing polycarbonate or extremely flexible filaments. The list of 3D printing plastics is as follows:
ABS - A filament that is the most commonly used 3D printing plastic, and is used in the bodywork of cars, appliances, and mobile phone cases.
FDM / FFF - Fused deposition modeling technologies are the best known for using plastic materials in 3D printing.
PLA - One of the very best plastics as it is renewable, being made raw materials such as corn starch.
ASA - Similar to ABS, yet ASA has a greater resistance to UV rays.
PET - Polyethylene terephthalate to give it its full name, is used mainly in disposable plastic bottles.
Polycarbonate (PC) - A high strength material designed for engineering applications.
As discussed above, the need for biodegradable plastics is more pressing than ever. That’s where PLA comes into its own. It may represent the answer, the fulfillment of the dream of cost-efficient, non-petroleum plastic production. As Biomasspacking writes:
“One of the major problems with petroleum-based plastics is that they are derived from oil or natural gas which are only available in finite amounts throughout the world. Eventually, these fossil resources will run out. PLA, is derived from corn, a resource that can be renewed annually.”
3D printing plastics have become an invaluable tool for producing products that are efficient, such as medical supplies, military equipment and other essential materials that are needed for emergency situations.
3. Broader range of Choice
Because 3D printers can be geared to use a great variety of plastics, businesses have a lot more choice when it comes to choosing a material that’s right for them.
The durability aspect of 3D printing plastics is yet another means of reducing waste, and in turn, environmental catastrophe. The highly versatile and durable nature of plastics used in the 3D printing industry is greatly underrated, yet it is one of the key aspects of why 3D printing is becoming so popular. From the film industry to the fashion industry and everything in between, designers and manufacturers are all looking for products that will stand the test of the time.
5. Cost Effective
The simple yet highly beneficial process of 3D printing with plastics is becoming ever more cost effective, with businesses getting more out of it financially than they are putting in.
Photo by Maurizio Pesce