A new di­men­sion to 3D print­ing

UOt­tawa grad hopes biodegrad­able prod­uct finds favour with green con­sumers

Ottawa Business Journal - - TECHNOLOGY - BY ADAM FEIBEL SPE­CIAL TO OBJ

prin­ters are ex­pected to soon be­come a house­hold tool in the “21st-cen­tury work­shop.” When they do, one stu­dent en­tre­pre­neur is bank­ing con­sumers will want to go green.

3D print­ing works by melt­ing a plas­tic fil­a­ment and re­assem­bling it in thin lay­ers that harden to form a three-di­men­sional ob­ject. The fil­a­ments are com­monly made of ei­ther ABS, a pe­tro­leum-based ther­mo­plas­tic, or poly­lac­tic acid (PLA), a bio­plas­tic that’s com­postable only in com­mer­cial com­posters.

The prob­lem of what goes into th­ese 3D prin­ters led Phil Chi­as­son to ask: “Why don’t we use in­no­va­tive ma­te­rial for th­ese in­no­va­tive ma­chines?”

That’s the phi­los­o­phy be­hind his startup, Prin­tearth. Draw­ing from his back­ground in en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, Mr. Chi­as­son has de­vel­oped a fil­a­ment that’s fully biodegrad­able in soil or wa­ter.

“If you have a phone case you just re­cently printed and a new phone comes out,” he ex­plains, “you can take this phone case, toss it in a ditch, and it’ll break down 100 per cent.”

Prin­tearth started in June with a $20,000 in­vest­ment from uOt­tawa’s Startup Garage that has gone to­ward equip­ment, mar­ket­ing and a metric tonne of the raw ma­te­rial. Mr. Chi­as­son taught him­self how to make the fil­a­ments by do­ing some re­search, or­der­ing equip­ment and just giv­ing it a try.

It’s worked out so far. Prin­tearth is

PHOTO BY ADAM FEIBEL

Phil Chi­as­son is the founder of lo­cal startup Prin­tearth.

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