Nov 8, 2018

Designer Develops 3D Printer That Spits Out Wet Paper Pulp

Designer Beer Holthuis has developed the Paper Pulp Printer: a 3D printer that squirts out fascinating objects made from wet paper pulp. The project aims to give artists and designers a way to 3D print more sustainable objects.

3D printing is a marvelous and innovative technology that enables us to create even the most complex designs, but one issue that has concerned environmentally-minded makers is the excessive use of plastic materials. Sustainability is becoming a major focus for many 3D printing companies and enthusiasts, leading to the development of recycled materials and other more earth-friendly processes.

Taking inspiration from the mischevious kids that sat in the back of class shooting spitballs at one another, designer Beer Holthuis has developed the Paper Pulp Printer: a 3D printer that extrudes sopping wet paper. Using a bit of natural binder and wet paper, the designer created a 3D printer that could extrude a thick bead of pulp that could be built up layer-by-layer into a 3D object.

Better yet, the models that are created from this paper material are fully recyclable, making use of the enormous amount of paper that is wasted on a daily basis. Not only are the resulting prints environmentally sustainable, but the material itself is actually quite strong and aesthetically intriguing. On the project description page, we found a range of unique examples that had a rustic, ancient feeling to them.

“The design of the printed objects are using the possibilities and beauty of this technique. The tactile experience, bold lines and print speed results in distinctive shapes. The objects are also durable: Printed paper is surprisingly strong,” Holthuis writes on his website. 

Saving the World…One Spitball at a Time

Fusing his interest in sustainability and digital fabrication, Holthuis decided to undertake this project after learning about how every person wastes around 80kg of paper per year. “There is a growing market for 3D printing on demand. Printing your own designs, or from an existing model library, is widely accessible these days. The print material is almost always plastic, besides some expensive exceptions. I was surprised there are no real sustainable materials used in 3D printing,” he says.

And so, he decided to develop a printer that would make use of this squandered paper waste. The addition of the natural binder to the material enables the layers of wet paper pulp to stick together, while also making the prints fully recyclable. The machine is also able to take paper and automatically create the pulp material. As you can see in the photos, the resulting prints look like ancient relics that were handmade on an alien planet, simultaneously appearing to be both modern and primitive.

While these wet paper-based objects provide a fascinating visual aesthetic, the truly innovative part of this project is the emphasis on environmental sustainability. Hopefully, others will be inspired by the Holthuis’ Paper Pulp Printer, following his lead to help make 3D printing technology less reliant on plastic materials, and ultimately more amicable towards Mother Nature.

To learn more about the Paper Pulp Printer project, be sure to visit Holthuis’ website.

License: The text of "Designer Develops 3D Printer That Spits Out Wet Paper Pulp" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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