Researchers Developed 3D Printer Inks from Cellulose Nanocrystals

Researchers have developed an ink for 3D printing that are made from cellulose nanocrystals, according to a study conducted on October 31, 2017.

Ink for 3D printing that are made from cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are found to be environmentally friendly. Cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose are the constituents found in wood. Organized in long fibrous structures, chains of glucose are found in biopolymer. Ordered structures are exhibited by cellulose fibrils and crystalline form is achieved when a higher degree of order appears at certain places. Researchers are looking for these sections, which can be purified using acid. Cellulose nanocrystals is the final product. They are tiny rod-like structures, which has a length of 120 nanometers and a diameter of 6.5 nanometers. Compared to the inks that are being used, there is 20 percent cellulose nanocrystals in the ink that has been newly developed.

Siqueira, researcher said, “The biggest challenge was in attaining a viscous elastic consistency that could also be squeezed through the 3D printer nozzles.” For the printed material to remain in its shape, the ink produced must be thick. Initially, water-based CNC mixtures were made. These mixtures were not preferred as brittle materials were formed using them. This led to the development of a polymer-based recipe. Advantage of this CNC is that they cross-link with the polymer building blocks and makes the material more rigid. Further, CNC had to be chemically modified as they were hydrophilic in nature. The initial attempts of printing using this CNC based inks showed perfect results. Alignment of CNC in the printed object was almost in the direction it was printed in.

Cellulose is a renewable material and can be found in plants and in bacteria. Further researches are being conducted for using printing methods in other applications. This environmentally friendly method of producing inks for 3D printing might lead to an increase in the growth of petroleum resins market, as elaborated in the petroleum resins market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

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