University of Toronto researchers have succeeded in converting used cooking oil — from McDonald’s, no less — into high-resolution 3D printing resin. Your first response might be: “Why?”, but thinking about it there are several advantages. For one thing, waste oil is a real problem for the food industry, and thus it can be acquired rather cheaply. An even bigger benefit is that the plastic that originates from this oil is biodegradable. Their 3d-printed butterfly, of course, is made from the recycled resin.
We aren’t chemists, but apparently 3D resin has a lot in common with cooking oil already. The team used a one-step chemical process to convert one liter of McDonald’s greasiest into a little more than 400 milliliters of resin.
Conventional 3D printing resin derives from fossil fuels (as opposed to the renewable PLA often used in FDM printers), and takes multiple steps. This drives its cost up. The researchers think they can produce their resin for about $300 per metric ton.
The one thing that worried us was the biodegradability. They claim that a buried object lost about 20% of its weight in a week due to microbes eating the fat. We don’t know how long the pieces would last sitting up on your kitchen counter.