The aim of the present study was to investigate the additive manufacturing process for high consistency nanocellulose. Unlike thermoformable plastics, wood derived nanocelluloses are typically processed as aqueous dispersions because they are not melt-processable on their own. The ability to use nanocellulose directly in additive manufacturing broadens the possibilities regarding usable raw materials and achievable properties thereof. Modern additive manufacturing systems are capable of depositing nanocellulose with micrometer precision, which enables the printing of accurate three-dimensional wet structures. Typically, these wet structures are produced from dilute aqueous fibrillar dispersions. As a consequence of the high water content, the structures deform and shrink during drying unless the constructs are freeze-dried. While freeze-drying preserves the geometry, it results in high porosity which manifests as poor mechanical and barrier properties. Herein, we study an additive manufacturing process for high consistency enzymatically fibrillated cellulose nanofibers in terms of printability, shape retention, structure, and mechanical properties. Particular emphasis is placed on quantitative shape analysis based on 3D scanning, point cloud analysis, and x-ray microtomography. Despite substantial volumetric as well as anisotropic deformation, we demonstrate repeatability of the printed construct and its properties.
Klar, V., Pere, J., Turpeinen, T., Kärki, P., Orelma, H., & Kuosmanen, P. (2019). Shape fidelity and structure of 3D printed high consistency nanocellulose. Scientific Reports, 9(1), . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40469-x