Very promising results from the 3D printing of biopolymers

Work Package 2 of the SeaBioComp project is dedicated to the optimisation of large-scale additive manufacturing for the printing of thermoplastic polymers and has already been fabricating early bio composite end-user demonstration parts.

As part of the SeaBioComp project, a large scale 3D printer that operates using the FDM (Fused Deposition Moulding) technique was installed at Poly Products in order that they could produce a report into the adaptations necessary for the processing of biopolymers in 3D printing. The report is available in the downloads section of the website at

The large scale 3D printer has been proved to be suitable for processing biopolymers and has been working with Observer Participant De Klerk Waterbouw to design, manufacture and test 3D printed biopolymer fenders.

The fender profiles were produced using Thermoplastic Starch (TPS), Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and natural fibre reinforced TPS.

Early results have been very encouraging and have attracted a lot of media attention as well as interest from a number of end-users of composites. The initial fender design was made at 1:2 scale using starch-based biopolymers.

Testing of the initial 3D printed scaled fender was carried out by the University of Portsmouth and further samples, using an improved design have more recently been tested by De Klerk Waterbouw with promising results. More work is being done to improve the perpendicular strength and other issues to do with heat and surface quality.

A report into the production of the 3D printed biopolymer fender can be downloaded from the website at

Work is now taking place to produce a full scale 2m fender assembly to be installed at the quay at De Klerk Waterbouw which will verify the process and materials being used.

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Posted 2020-11-18 17:05:58

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