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PolyU-led novel food waste-derived 3D printing materials to be showcased at InnoCarnival 2023

30 Oct 2023

The novel food waste-derived 3D printing materials developed by the Research Institute for Future Food (RiFood) will be showcased at the InnoCarnival 2023 to be held from 28 October to 5 November 2023 at Hong Kong Science Park.

Prof. WONG Ka Hing, Director of RiFood, said that food waste can be simply divided into two types. “The first type is kitchen waste, which mainly comes from households or restaurants. The second type is food/agro-waste generated by food processing plants. As these food/agro-wastes come from food factories, waste production is concentrated and the waste composition is relatively homogenous. Examples include spent coffee grounds, spent tea leaves, potato peels, etc. The innovative green technology we showcase is upcycling the spent coffee grounds and tea leaves into novel 3D printing materials,” he explained.

3D printing has become very popular in recent years, and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is the one of the most commonly used 3D printing methods. FDM can print various tools with plastic as the main printing material. Prof. Wong said that their innovative green technology can combine spent coffee grounds/tea leaves with polylactic acid (PLA) to produce a novel 3D printing material. “This novel food waste-derived 3D printing material (up to 50% of food waste) can be used in FDM 3D printers without affecting its printing performance. With a strong tensile strength (10-40 MPa), the novel 3D printing material can be used for a wide range of applications, such as production of modular furniture and display goods,” he elaborated.

This novel sustainable 3D printing material exhibits excellent ductility and can be used for printing shock-absorbing structures. To ensure compliance with the low-carbon policy, the novel 3D printing material is customisable, scalable, does not require any chemical additives during the mass production process, and its carbon footprint is about 36% lower than that of commercial PLA 3D printing material.

The team is going to collaborate with a local coffee chain to produce eco-friendly 3D-printed furniture and display goods using their spent coffee grounds. Various 3D printed products made from spent coffee grounds will also be showcased at the Carnival.

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