3D-Printer Extrudes Paper Pulp Instead of Plastic

We’ve seen all sorts of 3D-printers on these pages before. From the small to the large, Cartesians and deltas, and printers that can squeeze out plastic, metal, and even concrete. But this appears to be the first time we’ve ever featured a paper-pulp extruding 3D-printer.

It’s fair to ask why the world would need such a thing, and its creator, [Beer Holthuis], has an obvious answer: the world has a lot of waste paper. Like 80 kg per person per year. Thankfully at least some of that is recycled, but that still leaves a lot of raw material that [Beer] wanted to put to work. Build details on the printer are sparse, but from the photos and the video below it seems clear how it all went together. A simple X-Y-Z gantry moves a nozzle over the build platform. The nozzle, an order of magnitude or two larger than the nozzles most of us are used to, is connected to an extruder by a plastic hose. The extruder appears to be tube with a stepper-driven screw that lowers a ram down onto the pulp, squeezing it into the hose. [Beer] notes that the pulp is mixed with a bit of “natural binder” to allow the extruded pulp to keep its shape. We found the extrusion process to be just a wee bit repulsive to watch, but fascinating nonetheless, and the items he’s creating are certainly striking in appearance.

This may be the first pulp printer to grace our pages, but it’s not the first pulp hack we’ve featured. Pulp turns out to be a great material to keep your neighbors happy and even makes a dandy fuel.

Thanks to [baldpower] for the tip.

33 thoughts on “3D-Printer Extrudes Paper Pulp Instead of Plastic

    1. I can see from your comment that you’re new to 3D printing… welcome! You might want to check out Prusa and its variants as an example of phenomenal precision and capability. The video shows a frame that looks like the Anet A8, but made from plywood – a very capable printer once you get the settings dialed in.

      1. If he is using paper pulp, and his aglutinating agent is for example corn starch, the resulting material will already be biodegradable. If the “printing” patter could also include some structured holes, it could also be easily burnable.

  1. Has a camera ever been incorporated in a 3d printer near the extrusion point as a feed back to extrusion rate? Something akin to an algorithm by which: breaks in the newly laid bead are detected, increase flow until no breaks

    1. Yeah, it’s meant as an art piece, like “Look what I’ve done, but not how I done it”. Compare it to “hacker way” where “way” is sometimes even more important than result.

  2. It lacks the one necessary aspect of 3D printing in order for it to produce viable structures rather than conical ones which “fall in” on themselves for rigidity: the previous layer has to firm-up before the next layer is laid down on it. Without that you just have a pile of squishy stuff being moved around by the extruder.

  3. Impressive. Just because you cant think of any useful thinks to print doesn’t mean other people won’t. Paper is a good thermal insulator. In industrial scale you can print matresses or tents for the homeless. Packaging for weird-shaped products thy can save a lot of money in storage fees. Possibilities are endless.

  4. Add some sort of binder. It needs to be biodegradable but biodegradable but not TOO biodegradable.

    Then print really fancy peat pots in all sorts of sizes and shapes! They serve as temporary home decorations during the late winter/early spring while giving your summertime garden a nice head start.

  5. Freeze the print into pykrete?
    I wonder what happens when you drive off the water.
    Another thought I have is turning a print into carbon (like making charcole or AvE’s ‘carbon foam’ foundry).

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