Home Materials Oak Ridge Labs develops recyclable materials for 3D printing and injection molding

Oak Ridge Labs develops recyclable materials for 3D printing and injection molding

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) have created a sustainable rubber-based composite material that can be dissolved and recycled after molding using “smart” chemistry. This enables a closed loop for rapid manufacturing via 3D printing and injection molding.

“We used only bio-based raw materials for a ‘smart’ polymer in a solvent-free reaction process,” explains Sargun Rohewal, PhD student at the University of Tennessee. He is working with Dr. Amit Naskar, head of the ORNL Carbon & Composites group.

The novel material combines rubber with wood fiber-reinforced additives. The cross-linking between polymer and fibers takes place via special, thermally activated bonds. Above 250°F, these bonds dissolve, the composite material becomes liquid and can be poured into molds or 3D printed.

“Conventional elastomers are not recyclable. Our material, on the other hand, can be almost completely melted by heating after shaping and returned to the production cycle,” says Naskar.

Next, the researchers want to further optimize the mechanical properties such as strength and heat resistance. “With this knowledge, a wide range of fiber-reinforced composite products can be manufactured, welded and 3D printed,” says Naskar, explaining the potential.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

3DPresso is a weekly newsletter that links to the most exciting global stories from the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry.

Privacy Policy*

You can find the privacy policy for the newsletter here. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time. For further questions, you can contact us here.