Zero-waste meets 3D printing in wheat bran-based filament
New GF3D Branfill3d filament created by startup GREENFILL3D in collaboration with MASPEX
GREENFILL3D, a Polish start-up operating at the intersection of ecological, biodegradable materials and 3D printing, introduced a unique filament based on wheat bran – GF3D Branfill3d. The material was created in accordance with modern concepts such as zero-waste and circular economy: wheat bran is waste resulting from the production of pasta and noodles. From this material, GREENFILL3D printed proprietary advertising stands (the so-called POS, or point of sale displays), to present packages of ready-made pasta. The project is being developed in cooperation with the MASPEX Group – one of the largest food producers in Europe.
The GF3D Branfill3d material is a composite of wheat bran, polylactic acid (PLA) – a popular bioplastic used in 3D printing – and other fully biodegradable ingredients that together give the material unique properties. The parts 3D printed with GF3D Branfill3d are resilient and to some extent flexible (depending on the wall thickness) which makes them quite difficult to break. A large contribution to these properties is made by the wheat bran’s fibrous structure, which gives the 3D printed parts resilience as well as a smooth surface finish. What’s more, during the 3D printing process, the material offers the scent of baked bread, which remains on the 3D printed parts for a long time.
How is it made? The entire process consists of four steps. First MASPEX Group supplies GREENFILL3D with raw wheat bran material, which is pasta production waste. The raw wheat bran is then sieved to the necessary low fraction and carefully and patiently dried until there is negligible moisture (wheat bran is very hygroscopic). At this point, the wheat bran is mixed with other ingredients and processed in an industrial environment into a thin filament wire that can be used in 3D printing process. Finally, GREENFILL3D prints POS stands with its 3D printer farm of over 40 machines.
Each stand consists of 34 elements – assembly is quick and easy. In addition, the structure of the stand is modular, which may allow for its further expansion with additional modules. The result is an advertising stand presenting food products, which was created based on the remains of the same food material. Production wastes – instead of being thrown away or disposed of, were also used to produce common tools to support sales.
The project perfectly fits within the assumptions of zero-waste and circular economy ideas and can be scaled to other areas. The properties of wheat bran material allow performing a number of different applications, from everyday use and decorative items to industrial products. Currently, the GREENFILL3D team is conducting the first tests of the use of applications made of GF3D Branfill3d for a customer representing the automotive industry and intends to successively test it in other industries.
MASPEX is the largest private Polish company in the food industry and one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe. GREENFILL3D was selected as part of the ScaleUp Program organized by PARP (Polish Agency for Enterprise Development) to implement a joint project with the MASPEX Group for one of its main brands – the leader in the pasta category in Poland – the Lubella brand. Joint work on the project began on July 1, 2021, and on December 15, 2021, the first prototype was ready for logistic trials. The final POS display was made of 20% wheat bran filament, using shelf connectors made of PLA polymer, mounted on a pedestal made of 100% recyclable cardboard, with the print of Greenguard certified paints. The innovative “ecoPOS” will soon be delivered to selected retail outlets.