An example of bioplastics used in food packaging

Bioplastics are materials derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, pea starch or microbiota, whereas common plastics (fossil-fuel plastics) are generally derived from petroleum. Some of the more common applications for bioplastic parts are as packaging materials, dining utensils, food packaging and even insulation.

Bioplastics formulation experts Sierra Resins and 3D Printlife have announced their plan to introduce a new 3D printer biofilament aimed at environmentally-conscious consumers.

"Some filament plastics have been criticized for their potential negative impact to the environment," said Buzz Baldwin, Co-Founder of 3D Printlife. "A line of biofilaments will make a valuable contribution to sustainable development in 3D printing, and with the expertise of Sierra Resins, we feel we have the best possible partner to bring a viable biofilament to the consumer."

Since the vast majority of plastics produced annually end up in landfills, environmental sustainability is compromised. While all plastics begin their life as a natural molecule, bioplastic decomposes and creates carbon dioxide, water, salt, and methane breakdown. In modern landfills, methane is captured and becomes part of the business model to sustain operations – methane fuel is worth money.

This new type of bioplastic formula used for initial 3D biofilament testing is currently in production for film applications as well as for use in injection-molded products.

"Processability, smoothness, and adherence to tolerances were good," said John Tersigni, President and CEO of Sierra Resins. "We're now going to submit this particular grade of 3D biofilament to an independent ASTM certified biodegradability testing laboratory. We're happy about the initial results, so it's a good sign."

"We are very pleased with the initial test results of Sierra Resins' 3D biofilament," said Baldwin. "Our focus has always been about giving options to the consumer and we're extremely excited about delivering a biofilament to our customers – something that can perform like any other high quality plastic."