Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

Producing 3D-Printing Materials through Agricultural Biowaste

Jun 18, 2019 09:31 AM EDT

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Agricultural Waste
(Photo : Pixabay)

Researchers from the RISE PFI (Norway) and Institute de Materials de Misiones (Imam, Argentina) researched the agro-industrial residue bagasse.

The collaborators initiated in 2015 the utilization of bagasse as a resource for 3D printing which led to the ValBio-3D project "Valorisation of residual biomass for advanced 3D materials." Team leader Dr. Maria Cristina Area (IMAM) explained the vastness of the sugarcane industry in Argentina and Brazil.

"The worldwide volume of sugarcane production is roughly 1900 million tons. From this, almost 570 million tons correspond to bagasse that is commonly burned, missing the opportunity to generate high-value products.

"RISE PFI, an internationally acknowledged research institute for processes and products based on lignocellulose, has been one of the pioneers in utilizing nanocellulose for biomedical devices and 3D printing."We were probably the first group to propose nanocellulose for 3D printing of wound dressings, which for example make it possible to tailor-make the structure and composition for personalized treatments," says Dr. Gary Chinga Carrasco, the other initiator of the ValBio-3D project.

"So we had this innovative idea of utilizing bagasse for the production of nanocellulose and testing this for wound dressing devices, manufactured by 3D printing."

The need to utilize and recycle biomass has motivated the two lead researchers to organize a consortium of experts from European and South American countries that include Universidad de La Frontera (Chile), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru (Peru), Fraunhofer (Germany), and VTT (Finland).

This consortium was able to realize a project proposal that was submitted to ERANet-LAC, a program that motivated the cooperation between Latin-America and Europe. The proposal was successful and they won a grant to realize the ValBio-3D project, for a period of 3 years.

The researchers had already published three papers related to the valorization of bagasse for 3D printing of wound dressings. A high-value nanocellulose ink for 3D printing was the first product of their first work. The pulping process is significant in the nanocellulose production used in biomedical devices.

The development of biomedical devices involves a critical aspect which is the verification of cytotoxicity. "This has been a very successful cooperation and we are happy to have this group onboard as they have a competence and methods that we were missing in our original consortium," continues Chinga Carrasco, and points to the recent paper about bagasse nanocellulose inks for 3D printing of wound dressing devices, published in the renowned journal Additive Manufacturing.

"We foresee that the next step in the development of wound dressings is the personalized aspect of the biomaterials, i.e. wound dressings that are structured and composed of constituents specially selected for a specific wound and wound treatment," continues Dr. Chinga Carrasco. Additionally, wound dressings are expected to be intelligent and thus automatically detect and inform the clinicians about the development of a specific wound.

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