Like a high-tech Rumpelstiltskin, you may soon be able to spin straw into plastic. A new filament, made by Chinese manufacturer Jiangsu Jinghe Hi-Tech Co., is made primarily of straw and a plastic base. The resulting filament melts at about 170 degrees Celsius and costs far less than standard ABS or PLA.
The manufacturer can use wheat straw, rice straw, or corn stalks for the base material which is then ground up and mixed with polypropylene. The resulting pellets can then be extruded into filament for 3D printers. The material comes out slightly brown and has a soft, clean finish.
According to 3Ders “14,000 tons of the straw-based plastic can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22,400 tons every year” and costs half the price of ABS plastic to make.
The company is making the material for mass market customers currently but will expand into filament manufacture over time. This means 3D printing filament could drop from $50 per spool to something like $10, an important jump that could speed 3D printing adoption.