3-D printing with cellulose: World’s most abundant polymer could rival petroleum-based plastics
March 3, 2017 by David L. Chandler in Chemistry / Materials Science
For centuries, cellulose has formed the basis of the world’s most abundantly printed-on material: paper. Now, thanks to new research at MIT, it may also become an abundant material to print with—potentially providing a renewable, biodegradable alternative to the polymers currently used in 3-D printing materials.
“Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer in the world,” says MIT postdoc Sebastian Pattinson, lead author of a paper describing the new system in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. The paper is co-authored by associate professor of mechanical engineering A. John Hart, the Mitsui Career Development Professor in Contemporary Technology.
Cellulose, Pattinson explains, is “the most important component in giving wood its mechanical properties. And because it’s so inexpensive, it’s biorenewable, biodegradable, and also very chemically versatile, it’s used in a lot of products. Cellulose and its derivatives are used in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, as food additives, building materials, clothing—all sorts of different areas. And a lot of these kinds of products would benefit from the kind of customization that additive manufacturing [3-D printing] enables.”
Meanwhile, 3-D printing technology is rapidly growing. Among other benefits, it “allows you to individually customize each product you make,” Pattinson says.
Replacement Chemical In BPA-Free Bottles Also Disrupts Estrogen In The Body
MARCH 2, 2017 by KAREN FOSTER
A compound called BPA is being phased out of all plastic packaging due to fears it may disrupt our hormones–but its replacement may be just as harmful.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is often found in disposable water bottles and babies’ milk bottles and cups. Small amounts can dissolve into the food and drink inside these containers. It is a dangerous chemical linked to health concerns from digestive problems to issues with brain development. It was previously found present in around two billion products in the U.S. that were used on a daily basis.
By 2009 it had the highest production volume and use in consumer goods, with 2.2 million tons consumed globally.
Because it’s the most harmful on developing brains and bodies, children and pregnant women, it started to be phased out from the manufacturing process of plastics.
This is a concern because a host of studies have shown that BPA can mimic the actions of oestrogen, binding to the same receptor in the body. Oestrogen is normally involved in breast development, regulating periods and maintaining pregnancies. Animals exposed to BPA develop abnormal reproductive systems, but it is unclear if people are exposed to high enough doses to be affected.
Due to public pressure — and bans in a few countries — many manufacturers have started replacing BPA. However, recent investigations have shown that Bisphenol A isn’t the only endocrine disrupting chemical consumers should be worried about. According to an article published in the US News and World Report, chemical substitute BPS, an endocrine disrupting hormone with traits very similar to BPA, is present in BPA-Free products and is inside paper money, cash register receipts and most plastic consumer products much like its predecessor.