The biopaste used to print this cylinder consists of 50 percent lignin and 50 percent cellulose. Credit: Lisa Ebers A viscous biopaste that is easy to process, solidifies quickly and is suitable for producing even complex structures using the 3-D printing process has been developed by a research team headed by Prof. Dr. Marie-Pierre Laborie from the Chair of Forest Biomaterials at the University of Freiburg. The wood-based biodegradable synthetic could potentially be used in lightweight construction, amongst other things. The scientists have published their initial results in the journals Applied Bio Materials and Biomacromolecules . Lignin strengthens the cell walls of plants and causes them to turn woody (lignify) – a mechanism that helps plants to protect themselves against wind or pests. It is a waste product from paper manufacture and largely incinerated to produce bioenergy. "This is why we’re researching into alternative possibilities for making better use of this raw material in future," says Laborie. As a result the team started to reexamine a combination of materials which was already investigated in the 1980s by an American research team. In this system, liquid crystals based on cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls, ensure not only […]

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