There could be rice 3D printer filament on the market soon.
Individuals in Japan are experimenting with rice material to produce a unique 3D printer filament.
The base material is “Rice Resin”, produced by Fukushima-based Biomass Resin Holdings, Co. Ltd. The material is a mix of polymers and rice.
You may be thinking that this is similar to corn in the United States, where production can take away from edible food sources. That’s not the case here, because Biomass Resin uses inedible rice.
Biomass Resin explains:
“”Rice resin” is a domestic biomass plastic derived from rice (non-edible). We will upcycle rice that is not processed as feed and discarded, such as old rice that is not suitable for food, crushed rice produced by rice confectionery manufacturers, etc., to plastic with new technology.”
The “inedible” means it is discarded rice, old and expired rice, damaged or otherwise rendered non-food grade. It’s waste rice. Normally this material is burned, which pollutes the atmosphere with extra CO2. Here it is productively used to create resin that can be used by industry.
The resin is made with up to 70% rice content, with the rest being polymers and additives. This is a significant portion of the resin’s mass, making this a meaningful contribution to the environment: it’s carbon neutral.
What’s interesting about this “recycling” effort is that the source material is basically inexhaustible: there is always waste rice, and in vast quantities. It’s also very inexpensive to obtain.
There are various potential uses of the rice material, and industry is still discovering them.
One area of interest is 3D printer filament. However, Biomass Resin doesn’t make such a product, and it’s left up to others to do so.
Twitter users @archi_peace seems to be doing exactly this. In a series of Tweets, @archi_peace reveals their experiments in developing a filament using Biomass Resin’s rice material.
This video shows the material being extruded into filament form:
In one of the posts it is shown how the filament is produced: using a basic make-your-own-filament setup. It’s very hard to make a quality filament with this arrangement, but it’s probably sufficient to prove out the viability of a rice filament.
That is underway, as there are images of test prints using the strange rice filament. They’re certainly not the greatest prints, but what do you want for initial experiments?
I suspect this experimentation will continue as the interest in such a filament could be quite high. With an increasing number of people recognizing the inability of PLA to biodegrade, the desktop 3D print industry is lacking an easy-to-use default material.
Perhaps it will be rice.