Researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are conducting experiments to ascertain the effectiveness of using bamboo fiber in 3-D printing.

The experiments will examine the feasibility of using bio-based feedstock materials in additive manufacturing.

As part of the experiment, chopped bamboo fibers were added to a bio-polymer resin to create bamboo-based pellets, resulting in a more sustainable material that can be used for manufacturing molds, prototypes, appliances and furniture, the researchers said.

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The research team 3D-printed a table that contains 10 percent bamboo fiber composite. The bamboo pellets were created by adding chopped bamboo fibers, purchased from a Kentucky-based company, to PLA resin.

ORNL contracted the help of a Knoxville-based company to combine the two materials and create the 3D printable pellets.

“We are investigating the use of different types of cellulose fibers to develop feedstock materials with better mechanical performance that can increase the number of available composites and opportunities for sustainable practices,” ORNL’s Soydan Ozcan said.