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USA & Canada
Castor bean field image.
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Polymer materials derived from sustainable sources.

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Aaron Pearson - December 20, 2021
Aaron Pearson - December 20, 2021

Saturday, June 5, is World Environment Day and the 3D printing industry is a good one to be in as we work to move the world to more sustainable manufacturing. A broader embrace of additive manufacturing particularly for production parts would reduce the energy needs to ship parts around the world, reduce waste from subtractive manufacturing, and also result in products that are lighter, saving fuel and energy in applications like aerospace and transportation.

 

One area we’re excited about materials developed from sustainable sources. Our newest 3D printer, the SAF-powered H350™, will be paired initially with one such material – High Yield PA11.

 

PA11 is a great example of how sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing performance. Compared to petroleum-derived PA12, PA11 provides higher ductility, higher impact, and higher fatigue resistance, and is suitable for a wider range of industry applications.

Polymer material.
Polymer material.

It’s also 100 percent bio-based from sustainable castor oil.

 

Castor oil comes from castor beans, which are widely grown in tropical regions throughout the world. India is the largest producer today – providing 80% of the world’s supply, representing 1.2 million tons, according to BASF.  Where the climate is right, it grows quite easily. The beans – really seeds – contain between 40% and 60% oil. The remainder of the bean is generally repurposed as fertilizer. In fact, for many years it was used as a motor lubricant before the development of synthetics. In fact, it’s also an inedible vegetable oil, so it doesn’t compete with the food industry. Because of the versatility of its chemistry, companies can synthesize polymers such as epoxies, polyamides, and polyesters from the oil – PA11 being one of them.

Polymer material duct
Polymer material duct

Materials companies like BASF, Arkema, and Yayant Agro-Organics, and the international NGO Solidaridad have undertaken initiatives to encourage sustainable castor bean production in India. These organizations have empowered thousands of Indian farmers to develop and implement a sustainability framework for production of the beans.

 

  

 

Progress has been positive. Compared to 2016, yields have improved significantly, demo plots have been created to demonstrate better agricultural practices, and soil and water testing has been conducted across dozens of Indian villages. As of today, more than 4,500 farmers have been formally awarded certificates for their achievements in improving the sustainability of their farming. More than 8,700 hectares of land have been certified. 

 

From these plants comes the ability to produce millions of high-quality, durable end-use parts like the examples here, thanks to our H350 3D printer. For consumer electronic, cars, industrial goods and more, we’re helping our customers make thing better, for everyone.

Polymer material production center.
Polymer material production center.