Can You 3D-Print With Hemp? Yes, You Actually Can!
By 2027, the global hemp market is estimated to reach a valuation of $15.26 billion and exhibit a growth rate of 15.8%. This market growth can be attributed to the plant’s versatility, ease of use, and sustainability.
The 3D printing industry isn’t left behind. 3D printing with hemp is environmentally sustainable since it reduces waste production and uses less energy. Hemp is converted into hemp filaments before it’s used in the printing.
Traditionally, the 3D printing industry has negatively contributed to greenhouse gas emissions due to its energy demands and excessive use of plastic. For a more sustainable future, hemp in 3D printing should be a mainstream sector instead of being seen as a convenient alternative.
What are Hemp Filaments Used in 3D Printing?
To promote green technology, hemp filament is your best bet for 3D printing. It’s biodegradable and makes an odorless print material – the perfect replacement for plastic.
These filaments are composed of a Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament infused with real hemp fibers known for their durability. They can also be used to make ropes, textiles, and other industrial materials.
How Hemp Filament Is Used in 3D Printing
Since hemp filaments are made from PLA, you can use 3D printer settings that work best with PLA. Hemp filament 3D printing works best at a temperature of 180 °C to 210 °C. You don’t necessarily need to use a heating bed when printing with hemp filament.
A heating bed can dramatically improve print quality by keeping plastic warm and preventing warping and deformation of the model. Hemp filaments don’t warp easily like plastic, making them a great choice for 3D modeling. Instead of a heating bed, you can use a glass printing bed and an adhesion aid such as Kapton tape.
Additionally, since hemp filament doesn’t shrink or warp, it can be printed at very high speeds of up to 120 mm/s. This will save time and energy costs. It’s, however, recommended to print at low speeds such as 60 mm/s and work your way up for the best results.
Pros and Cons of Using Hemp Filaments for 3D Printing
Hemp filament combines old and new 3D technologies to create a unique and practical product. To fully understand 3D-printing with hemp, let’s look at its pros and cons:
3D Printing with Hemp: Pros
Unlike plastic, hemp filaments are environmentally friendly. You can safely dispose of your misprints and wasted filaments in landfills. They’ll decompose quickly and release organic compounds into the soil, making the soil composition richer.
Hemp 3D prints have a distinctive natural grain and finish thanks to the hemp fibers present in the filament. They have a rich brown color than most wood filaments, giving your prototypes a unique and beautiful look.
Make Work Easier
These filaments are easy to use because you can print them at relatively faster speeds and lower temperatures. The filaments also don’t shrink or warp, eliminating the need to use a heating bed or fan.
3D Printing with Hemp: Pros
Hard on the Extruder
Since the filaments are made from solid and strong raw materials, they can cause the extruder to wear off quickly. Regular replacement of the extruder can be quite expensive. For better durability, use an extruder that’s abrasive-resistant and comes with a wider diameter nozzle of more than 0.5mm.
As a hemp plastic, hemp filament tends to be brittle just like plastics. Having the filament break in the middle of the printing can be a little stressful. It means cleaning up your extruder setting it up to start the printing from scratch.
To prevent this inconvenience, ensure that there’s a clear filament path from the spool to the extruder to avoid sudden and sharp turns. Additionally, new types of hemp filaments are being developed to resolve this issue.
Where to Use 3D Hemp Prints
3D printing is the process of creating a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design model.
Creating 3D print designs involves an additive process where successive layers of material are laid down to create the desired object.
Here’re some industries that regularly use 3D hemp printing:
1. 3D Hemp Printing in Construction
In 2019, the 3D printing construction market value was estimated to be $3 million and projected to grow up to $1,575 million by 2024. The growth is attributed to the high demand from the building and infrastructure sectors.
If you’re an environmentalist, the prospect of all that plastic waste destroying the earth is scary. But not anymore. You can now construct a building with sustainable 3D printed hemp materials – hemp fiberboard, hempcrete, and hemp-derived resin.
2. 3D Hemp Printing in Prosthetics
3D printing with hemp has been used to help people living with disabilities. The sustainable 3D printing hemp filament has improved the design of prosthetics by incorporating better customization and integration with the user’s body.
3. 3D Hemp Printing in Eyewear
Eyewear companies are combining hemp and coffee filled PLA filaments to create unique and organic frame designs. The frames are not only recyclable but also stylish. They‘re also less likely to break compared to the typical plastic.
Why You Should 3D Print with Hemp
After the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, hemp is now legally grown in the United States as long as it has a 0.3% THC content or less. It’s a more environmentally-friendly raw material since it doesn’t need a lot of pesticides and fertilizers to grow. Besides, the hemp plant is hardy, versatile, and grows quickly.
Using hemp filament instead of plastic in 3D printing reduces the number of greenhouse gases released to the environment since there isn’t a lot of processing. It’s also a cheaper alternative, especially in the construction sector. Protect the world today for a better future by hemp 3D printing.