A new dimension to 3D printing
UOttawa grad hopes biodegradable product finds favour with green consumers
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
Phil Chiasson is the founder of local startup Printearth.