3D printing for the Circular Economy

Technology and Controls

The European project SAMANTHA - Skills in Additive MANufacturing for the Toolmaking and HAbitat Sectors is coming to end. In synergy with other projects, it has allowed Centrocot to investigate the potential of 3D printing both in terms of technology and application areas.

During the multiplier event organized at the new Multi-Lab, Centrocot involved the participants by providing inputs and reflections on materials, technologies and areas thanks to testimonies from different points of view: academic, technical experts that support companies for new material solutions, and applied research.

 

From the university research we have received several examples in which the application of 3D printing is bringing innovations and benefits. Surely an interesting area is related to the additive manufacturing of smart fabrics for the medical field. In particular, in recent years, diagnostic smart textile solutions have been particularly successful, as they are able to provide continuous monitoring of biophysical, biochemical and environmental factors.

 

The additive manufacturing for textile is an exciting field that will continue to grow. It allows to develop new designs and functionalities that cannot be easily achieved conventionally, moreover like many new technologies, the development of textile 3D printing can stimulate a completely new generation of fibers, fabrics and their applications.

 

Also from the point of view of the used materials, experiments and opportunities for innovation are underway. For example, the academic world also points out recycled plastics and/or bio-based plastics as areas of investigation since most textile additive printing still uses fossil plastics. And so, one of the proposals of study and development that Centrocot would like to carry out is the use of thermoplastic textile waste as a potential raw material to produce filaments for 3D printing for the development of high quality objects (upcycling).

Through the collection, sorting and processing by extrusion of textile waste, a continuous filament can be make that can be printed into objects using commercially available 3D printers. In addition, textile waste will be used not only as a basic polymer for filaments, but also as fillers to give the filaments (and therefore the printed object) specific properties such as mechanical strength, fire resistance, thermal and electrical conductivity, aesthetic properties, etc.

This could be an interesting approach for all those companies that produce a not-so-important stream of waste/scrap, as 3D printing, like all additive manufacturing (AM) processes, is known to consume small amounts of material. It represents an action of innovation for those companies that want to identify and validate possible recycling and upcycling processes for their waste.

 

For more infomation:

Daniela Nebuloni

e-mail: daniela.nebuloni@centrocot.it

Author: Daniela Nebuloni

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.