Floreon, a UK bioplastics company, has developed and patented a new PLA blend that significantly enhances the toughness of the material without affecting its bioplastic properties. Already available in a extrusion, thermoforming, general purpose and injection molding grades, the company has now introduced Floreon 3D, a new bioplastic 3D printing filament, that, says the company, is four times tougher than conventional polylactic acid.
While traditional PLA has a lower carbon footprint and non-renewable energy usage than any petro-based thermoplastic, when used in 3D printing filaments it is notorious for its poor toughness. Although it delivers clean low temperature printing, it has limited performance and some strand breaks have been reported with lower quality PLA filaments. The new filament uses a novel polyester-based polymer blend with a standard PLA, which is not only tougher than PLA, but also combines better processing with a smoother printing experience.
The advantages of the new filament go well beyond that, however—at least according to Floreon Technical Director Andrew Gill. “We wanted to offer a high quality 3D printing filament that is far better than conventional PLA. It has taken us five years but I’m pleased to say all the hard work has paid off and we have found the resulting product gives a smooth printing experience with excellent interlayer adhesion and is less likely to break than conventional PLA,” he explained enthusiastically. In addition, he noted that the material had an excellent matt finish, yielding products that look very professional. The filament offers toughness and flexibility. There are no problems with nozzle cogging, which reduces machine downtime and waste.
And: “All this is achieved without compromising the attractive aspects of PLA such as low odor and low print temperatures compared to other popular plastics used in 3D printing,” he said.
As the use of 3D printing accelerates in applications such as prototyping, proof of concept and production of customized products users demand robust output with high quality and fine detail. At the same time, as its uptake in schools, business and the home takes off, environmentalists are keen to make sure 3D printing goes green.
Bill Stringer, Floreon Commercial Director, confirmed the availability of Floreon3D. “We have begun to produce Floreon3D in commercial quantities and I am delighted to say that it is now available for end users to purchase on Amazon. Currently available in 1.75mm diameter in 6 colors—red, blue, yellow, black, white and of course, green—we will be working to extend the range of products over the coming year.”
However Floreon's ambitions do not end there, as Stringer went on to explain. “Now that we have moved into production, we are working to form partnerships with printer manufacturers, to make Floreon3D their recommended high performance, environmentally friendly 3D printing filament, and with distributors and filament producers to incorporate Floreon resin into their products.”