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EU Launching Project BARBARA on 3D Printing of Biopolymers for the Automotive Sector

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The Spanish city of Zaragoza has hosted the opening meeting for the European Project BARBARA (Biopolymers with advanced functionalities for building and automotive parts processed through additive manufacturing). This is a 36 month long research project within the European Union Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020. With a 2.7 million euros budget, coming nearly exclusively from the EU, it brings together 11 partners from Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Coordinated by the Aragonese technology centre Aitiip, it envisages developing two prototypes helping demonstrate the prospects offered by that these new materials for key sectors of our economy such as the construction and automotive industries.

The BARBARA project aims to develop new bio-based materials with innovative functionalities through the incorporation of additives coming from bio-mass so that, by means of Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), – the most widely spread technology for 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) – prototypes with industrial applications can be obtained.

These new materials must be based on food waste (from vegetables, fruits and nuts such as carrots, almonds or pomegranates) or agricultural by-products (from corn) and must possess specific mechanical, thermal, aesthetical, optical and antimicrobial properties to make them suitable for their industrial use in components for two highly demanding sectors such as the construction and  automotive industries.

Plastics based on biomass materials are already in use for household 3D printing. Such is the case of PLA (poly-lactic acid). Now the challenge is using it at an industrial level while taking into account the requirements which manufactured pieces need to meet from the very early stage when engineering materials and enriching additives are formulated.

BARBARA project partners encompass the whole project chain, from suppliers of food and farming waste to construction and automotive end-users key to validating those demonstrator pieces made, through experts in chemistry, industrial materials production, machine and design processes, or those monitoring efficiency and impact of actions carried out.

Aittip Technology Centre, a private foundation involved in Research & Development and Innovation of processes and materials oriented to industry and society as a whole, will be responsible for coordinating the BARBARA project. Currently, it participates in 7 different projects within the Horizon 2020 programme. The other  companies and entities involved in the BARBARA project are FECOAM and CARGILL (food waste suppliers); Celabor, KTH and the University of Alicante (they will participate in the development of the chemical processes for the extraction of functional molecules and polysaccharides); NUREL and Tecnopackaging (involved in the development of materials and spools for 3D printing); AITIIP (which  will develop the new 3D printing procedure and will manufacture the demonstrator prototypes for the construction and automotive industries) and finally, Acciona Construcción and Centro Ricerche FIAT, which will validate those prototypes. The whole process will be monitored by the Italian University of Perugia (LCA, LCC)

While the outcomes and impact from BARBARA may also be of interest for other fields, the two chosen sectors (construction and automotive) possess really interesting characteristics for a project such as BARBARA which encompasses research, basic chemistry and 4.0 industry. BARBARA aims to develop demonstrator prototypes such as car door handles, dashboard fascia for the automotive sector or moulds for truss joints and structures used in the building sector.

This initiative will also contribute to the growth of related industries within the bio-economy and circular economy European Framework.

The BARBARA project contributes to creating two new value chains, as well as to the development of an innovative and forward-looking modern industry with the potential to revolutionise the production of new materials. An industry more in tune with the environment and where new and more environmentally friendly extractive processes are implemented, thus potentially reducing energy and materials´ consumption.

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Anthony Lowder

Anthony has been following the industry since 2010. He works with the editorial team and is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing digital content on our international website. As well as following the tech landscape, he is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and music producer.

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