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been gone for a while, whats the status?

Posted by ohiomike 
been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 22, 2008 09:11AM
Hi all,

Been gone for a while, on the plus side I have managed to file my first patent application. Hoping to get back involved in the coming months.

Whats the status on chemical issues? Any news on Furfural Alcohol as a build material. I need to let you guys know that it will likley be declared toxic in the EU in the next 2-4 years. That doesnt mean its any more (or less) dangerous than it has always been but that it is likley to be harder to get.

Any other biopolymers getting press around here?

For those of you who havent ever heard of me, I am a polymer chemist whose employer has a love/hate relationship with Reprap. They love that I study and push scientific boundraries, and they hate that someone could in theory sue them if one of my recommendations were to get someone hurt.


The views expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not in anyway reflect those of my employer.
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 22, 2008 11:25AM
Well as of late more people have been looking in to polylactic acid (PLA) as it for one seems to be a bit more common, well at least in the USA. Its made from corn, biodegradable, good for the earth and blah blah blah .... and it seems to work better than HDPE in the current extruder. Granted this is not really my opinion of it as I don't have a reprap yet..more just regurgitation of what others have said here.
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 22, 2008 01:14PM
At least for the time being PLA is likely to be more popular then a lot of the other biopolymers for the simple reason that it is a biobased thermoplastic which is not that terribly common.

Furfural Aldehyde is a biobased thermoSET used in the foundry industry. Its relativily simple to make, being an acidic distillation of hemi-cellulose. Quaker Oats is the only producer of it in the US and the only reason that they still make it is to justifiy the huge import duty on material coming from India and China. Most of it is made into Furfuryl Alcohol which is used extensivly in foundries in the US and around the world as a metal casting binder.

Bakelite was orginally made with Furan based biopolymers and it is very possible to make a number of composites from it.

More importantly I expect that with the drive to cellulose based ethanol the price of Furan based materials should drop since it is a valuable biproduct of one of the most common methods of producting glucose from cellulose (strong acid hydrolsis).

I like it because it is carbon neutral, however it is not biodegradable making it a carbon sink. And it is recyleable only in the sense that you could grind it up to be used as a filler.

But if you make a shape out of a furan/filler based system, you could very easily pour any metal you desired into that shape to form circuits since Furan based systems are commonly used to form the molds and cores in STEEL foundries (pouring temps of 1500C). Pouring Aluminum at 750C normally just makes the mold harder.

Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 22, 2008 03:31PM
Hmmmm well that does sound promising as more of side kind of material be cause it could allow for the casting of the steal bars. Though I don't think that will the the primary of choice. I fact I think it would be best if we never really have just "one" material. The more materials that the a reprap can print with the more flexible it becomes. Also not as effected by material shortages or price changes. Well I dont have a reprap built yet otherwise i would not mind giving furfural Aldehyde a test.
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 23, 2008 01:25AM
Since furfural alcohol is cellulose based could you potentially make it from grass?
This is so you could take your lawn clippings and turn them into stuff.
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 23, 2008 10:06AM
Hemi-cellulose actually, which is present at some level in all forms of cellulose based plant life. As a rule 10% by weight of any cellulose based material can be converted to Furfural.

The best sources are oat hulls (which is why Quaker Oats makes the stuff), and corn cobs. Strangely enought hemi-cellulose is actually a major component of algea cell walls so algea based biodiesel and corn based ethanol should both produce large waste streams that can be converted.

But yes, you could in theory produce it from clippings of any kind, 10% yeild is what I would expect normally.

Of course while the hemi-cellulose is being converted to furfural the other 70% or so of the material that is true cellulose is being converted to glucose that can potentially be fermented into ethanol. Use nitric acid to do the conversion and neutralize with ammonia and you get fertilizer for your plants as a waste product. Even if you dont bother fermenting the glucose it makes an decent plant food as a result of being broken down, especially for algea since they are capable of both photosythesis and consuming glucose.


The view expressed in this post are my own and in no way reflect those of my employer.
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 24, 2008 04:14AM
Wellcome back Mike!

As of lately I have been very busy with stuff unrelated to RepRap. I'm trying to get my ass back to R&D at work, wich takes a lot of my time.
The only developpement I have been able to keep up and finalize is the UV-curing resins, the results which you can find in the Fabrication forum.

As for the Furfuryl Alcohol/Furfural resins, I have no new developpments yet. I have gotten myself a new amine to block the pTSA, wich I hope should yield a blocked acidic catalyzer that deblocks at lower temperatures (still aiming for 65-70
Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 24, 2008 07:39AM
I dont suspect that they will change the legality of an individual purchasing it. But it will change the number of companies willing to supply it.

I dont suspect the price will change much since there will be a glut in capacity for at least a while.

Re: been gone for a while, whats the status?
April 30, 2008 02:49PM
I too have been out of touch for a couple months - and am getting local interest in Austin

Has the extruder gearing been put to use? What materials in the USA for extrusion are working and at what temperature range?

Anything else?

Thank you.
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