Surface Technology

Research project

ValBio-3D – Future-oriented 3D materials made from plant residues

How will we manage to manufacture all kinds of products in the future without using fossil resources such as crude oil, and how can we establish a closed-loop economy based on renewable raw materials (bio-economy)? Agricultural and forestry residues such as lignocellulose play a key role here. Together with project partners in Europe and South America, we are developing technologies for the cost-efficient production of biochemicals, bioplastics, biocomposites and tailor-made nanocellulose. We are thereby creating the foundation for the comprehensive development of bio-based industrial products.

View into a 3D printer during the printing process.
© Fraunhofer WKI | Claudia Schirp
3D printing of biocomposite material.

The project encompasses the entire value chain. Each participating research institute manages one of the work packages, which build upon and mutually complement one another.

The “Instituto de Materiales de Misiones” in Argentina is developing, in cooperation with a bio-refinery, the processes for breaking down lignocelluloses and for isolating basic chemicals. The “Universidad de La Frontera” in Chile is addressing the question as to how lignin and hemicellulose fractions can be efficiently converted into biocompounds and bioenergy. Furthermore, the “VTT Technical Research Center of Finland” refines cellulose to form nanocellulose and optimizes it for the matrix of various biocomposites and for a variety of applications, including materials for the construction industry and biomedicine.

At the Fraunhofer WKI, we synthesize biopolymers from the bio-based basic chemicals and nanocellulose, which we then test in 3D printing. In addition, we are investigating the application of nanocellulose in binders for wood coatings.

The “Paper and Fibre Research Institute AS” in Norway produces filaments on the basis of biopolymers and cellulose for 3D printing and is developing processes for printing using nanocellulose pastes for medical applications such as wound dressings.

The project is rounded off by a comprehensive life cycle analysis (LCA) and economic evaluation performed by the “Pontifical Catholic University” in Peru.

Through this project, we are creating an international knowledge platform which offers new impetus for research, development and investment. We are thereby supporting the development of a sustainable and climate-friendly global economy.

Results

Our project partners have succeeded in extracting nanocellulose from sugarcane bagasse and pine sawdust. At the Fraunhofer WKI, we were able to use this to produce a material which is suitable for 3D printing. Our attempts to utilize nanocellulose for coatings were also successful and open up new possibilities for improving the functional properties of coatings.

Project partners

  • VTT Technical Research Center of Finland (Project coordinator)
  • Instituto de Materiales de Misiones (IMAM), UNaM-CONICET (Universidad Nacional de Misiones - Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Técnicas), Argentina
  • Biorefinery a Santa Ana, Argentina
  • Universidad de La Frontera, Chile
  • Paper and Fibre Research Institute AS, Norway
  • ERIK HOEL AS, Norway
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

Funding

Funding body: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Project management: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Funding reference: 01DN17022

Duration: 1.2.2017 to 31.1.2020