×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

IISc to help transform littered plastic into consumer products

VOiLA3D, a deep tech company working with large-scale robotic 3D printing technology, has collaborated with an IISc research team on the process that also promises to offset challenges involved in 3D printing with recycled plastic.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 23:40 IST

Bengaluru: An upcycling technique developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is set to supplement 3D printing technology in transforming littered plastic into consumer products, including furniture.

VOiLA3D, a deep tech company working with large-scale robotic 3D printing technology, has collaborated with an IISc research team on the process that also promises to offset challenges involved in 3D printing with recycled plastic.

"3D printing with disposed of plastic is not easy. The material requires the right chemistry for it to be ready for printing," Prof Suryasarathi Bose from IISc’s Materials Engineering Department explained.

Prof Bose and his team have developed an upcycling process to convert post-consumer recycled (PCR) acrylonitrile-butadiene- styrene (ABS) copolymer — or PCR ABS plastic — into ABS Vitrimer, a tougher version of the disposed of source plastic.

3D printing with recycled polymers has been gaining industry acceptance for its potential to overcome some of the material consistency issues associated with conventionally recycled products.

The right chemistry

PCR for recycling is, typically, sourced as raw material from vendors and is then reshaped as pellets. “But it does not always print well because it already comes in a downgraded form. The solution is to use the right process, or the right concoction, in the first step itself. The trials have happened and we have seen good results in the products,” Prof Bose told DH.

In June 2023, VOiLA3D established its large-scale robotic FGF (Fused Granulate Fabrication) 3D printing facility in Bengaluru. The company uses polypropylene — widely used in bottles, jars, and other forms of food packaging and one of the most littered forms of thermoplastic — to 3D-print the products that include park and playschool benches, cafeteria stools, and planters.

The IISc team employed a technique similar to its PCR ABS upcycling process, to make the plastic print-ready.

Prof Bose, who heads IISc’s Centre of Excellence for upcycling and recycling thermoplastics, said that efforts to patent the process were in progress.

A 3D-printed planter using upcycled plastic.

A 3D-printed planter using upcycled plastic.

Credit: Special Arrangement

India's annual plastic demand has reached 21 million tonnes and is projected to quadruple by 2050, but only 12 per cent of the plastic is being recycled, deepening an environmental crisis. The industrial collaboration is in line with the ongoing practices aimed at strengthening India’s $45 billion circular economy, Prof Bose said.

ADVERTISEMENT
(Published 21 February 2024, 23:40 IST)

Follow us on

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT