Biodegradable ABS 3D Printer Filament?

By on August 16th, 2015 in materials

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We’re looking at an offering from 3DPrintLife, who now sell a peculiar bio-friendly version of ABS plastic they call “Enviro”. 

Of the two main desktop 3D printer materials, ABS and PLA, it has long been known that PLA is more environmentally friendly. It is made from organic materials (e.g. corn starch), and can eventually biodegrade. PLA also has the valuable property of very limited shrinkage, leading to fewer print warps. And it smells a lot nicer when printing than ABS, too. 

As a result, many 3D printer owners have switched to PLA printing unless they have specific engineering needs to use the stronger ABS material. 

But now, 3DPrintLife offers what they call an “environmentally friendly 3D printer filament” named “Enviro”. How can this product be environmentally friendly? They explain: 

It works because of a special formula that allows microbial consumption, commonly associated with the bacteria found in Landfill to Energy facilities.  This means it will decompose if you ever decide to throw a print in the trash. 

Wait a second. Is this actually some form of PLA in disguise? According to their specs, the material is: 

Enviro™ Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
Print Nozzle Temperature: 220°C to 240°C

Yes, that is indeed ABS. 

It appears they’ve partially solved the inability of ABS to decompose by adding something that attracts microbes. Hopefully this process is slow, otherwise you may find your Enviro prints being eaten! 

3DPrintLife offers Enviro in 1.75mm format on 750g spools. Thirteen colors are available, each priced at USD$50 per spool. That’s a bit pricey as far as ABS goes, but on the other hand, you’ll be more environmentally friendly. Each spool also result in the donation of a forest tree somewhere in the USA and includes a sheet of bio seed paper containing wildflower seeds. 

(Side note: shipment of these spools outside the USA may encounter issues as seed material is often scrutinized carefully by customs officials). 

We’re curious about the other characteristics of Enviro. Does it warp as much as standard ABS? How does it smell during printing? Has anyone tested this material? 

Via 3DPrintLife

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!