Characterization of PLA/Lignin Biocomposites for 3D Printing

Obielodan, John
Vergenz, Kevin
Aqil, Danyal
Wu, Joseph
Ellistrem, Laurel Mc
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University of Texas at Austin

A greater proportion of polymer-based three-dimensional (3D) printing materials are synthetic petroleum derivatives that are not biodegradable, contributing to environmental pollution and have potential adverse effects on human health. Polylactic acid (PLA) is currently the most widely used among the bio-based alternatives. This work explores alternative environmentally friendly bio-based polymers sourced from sustainable crop and forest biomass derivatives for 3D printing. Various blends of PLA/Organosolv lignin were extruded for fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing process. The processing parameters and results of mechanical and thermal properties of fabricated test specimens of the biocomposite with up to 40wt% lignin concentration are presented. Results indicates that lignin, a low-cost waste product of pulping for the paper industry and bioethanol fuel production could serve as a key component of new biocomposite polymers for 3D printing applications.