“Bamboo is a very, very renewable material; some species grow more than three feet in a day. When harvested, it will grow new shoots from its extensive roots, so there is no need for additional planting or cultivation, and it also absorbs 35 percent more carbon dioxide per hectare than trees,” says Ozcan. Bamboo can grow in a variety of climates without the use of fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides and, unlike carbon fiber, requires very little energy to produce.

The Flotsam & Jetsam pavilions, the largest “green” structures ever printed, attracted a lot of press attention when Design Miami opened. They were later moved to a more permanent location in the city, where ORNL researchers hope to observe how the material stands up to the hot, humid, salt-laden air. (The pavilion was disassembled and stored prior to Hurricane Irma.)

Ozcan says ORNL is also exploring a variety of other renewable materials, including those made from forest products, for use in additive manufacturing. “Nanocellulose – the next generation reinforcement – is extremely strong, highly stiff and we are trying to find a commercial way of using it for 3-D printing,” he adds.

Using additive manufacturing with locally grown, biocomposite, biodegradable materials opens up a range of possibilities and opportunities for creating local businesses and local jobs, says Ozcan. “I really believe that down the road there will be a rethinking of manufacturing and the growth of the sustainability portion of it.”

Technology Trends a Topic of the GCC

Advances in additive manufacturing impact the composites industry’s global supply chain. To learn more about the global footprint of hot topics like 3-D printing and other emerging technology trends, attend the Global Composites Conference, co-produced by ACMA and NetComposites, Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2018, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Register today at http://globalcompositesconference.com/.