A method to convert a commonly thrown-away plastic to a resin used in 3D-printing could allow for making better use of plastic waste. A team of Washington State University researchers developed a simple and efficient way to convert polylactic acid (PLA), a bio-based plastic used in products such as filament, plastic silverware and food packaging to a high-quality resin.
A method to convert a commonly thrown-away plastic to a resin used in 3D-printing could allow for making better use of plastic waste. Although it’s bio-based, PLA, which is categorized as a #7 plastic, doesn’t break down easily. It can float in fresh or salt water for a year without degrading. It is also rarely recycled because like many plastics, when it’s melted down and re-formed, it doesn’t perform as well as the original version and becomes less valuable.
While the researchers focused on PLA for the study, they hope to apply the work to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is more common than PLA, has a similar chemical structure and presents a bigger waste problem. They have filed a provisional patent and are working to further optimize the process. The researchers are also looking into other applications for the upcycling method.
Source: Technology Newtworks