The Creation of WillowFlex
Flexible 3D Printer filament from Compostable Raw Materials
Press Release (originally released under name BioInspiration GbR)
The Creation Story
BioInspiration (Eberswalde, Greater-Berlin, Germany) prides itself on identifying materials that follow nature’s lead -compostable, upcyclable, harmless, innovative, resilient. In particular they look for opportunitiesto expand the material options for Makers and for decentralized production.
In 2014 -they found a market need. Compostable 3D Filament had been available for a few years. Flexible Filaments were the next hot opportunity, but there was no sign of a Flexible Filament made from Compostable Raw Materials.They took it upon themselves to fill this market need.
BioInspiration spoke to several innovative firms but ultimately initiated a working relationship with Green Dot (Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, USA). Green Dot matched innovative materials from their Terratek® Product line with the production expertise of a seasoned team and in-house development facilities.
BioInspiration additionally brought on board 3dk.berlin (Berlin, Germany), a plastic manufacturer with 30 years experience to handle filament production at their in-house faculties. 3dk.berlin has a 3D Print Studio with 7 different printer types allowing for quality and material endurance testing directly following production. With all three partners in place, the teams were able to move forward on an oversea development process to optimize the Terratek® Material for use in 3D Printing.
The process represented the closing of a circle for Green Dot who had been experimenting with ways to put their plastic into 3D Printing for a number of years.
“When BioInspiration approached us, ready to take the reigns on developing a 3D print form of ourmaterials we moved forward immediately. This brings together two merging branches of Plastic Development –next generation bioplastics and 3D Print integration.”
-Mark Remmert, CEO, Green Dot
Willow Flex’s Advantages
BioInspiration brings forward materials that are part of the Organic Material Evolution.
“We see over and over that nature has a way of surprising us.When we began experimenting with WillowFlex, we found that as a bioplastics it had several advantages inherent to the material. Besides the compostability, it is also more heat & cold resistant then standard plastic alternatives.”
Brian Crotty, CEO, BioInspiration (now WillowFlex)
For BioInspiration, it was important the base material from Green Dot had passed the compostablity standards in both the U.S. (ASTM D6400) and the more stringent E.U. (EN 13432) standards. Additionally all base material is delivered as non-GMO material.
The natural bonds of the base material of Willow Flex react differently to heat then traditional plastics. It is able to maintain it’s structural integrity at temperatures above 100° C which allows it to be used for applications including holding boiling water.
The original Terratek® Base Material is also certified to maintain it’s flexibility at -28° C. This means Willow Flex printed objects can be used in situations where the object experiences exposure to sub-zero temperatures and retain its functionality.
Green Dot has been working with their groundbreaking compostable thermoplastic elastomer (Terratek® Flex) since 2011. Their material and production processes are proven and have been utilized by customers around the world. The optimization for 3D printing means that now Makers and decentralized producers can directly benefit from the material originally developed for traditional plastic production.
Where does it lead?
WillowFlex is adding to an ever-expanding variety of filaments on the market. We aim to continue bringing more specific solutions to directly meet user and customer needs. The material is a step forward into the Organic Material Evolution -providing nature-inspired and nature-friendly alternatives to current market solutions.
BioInspiration will be working with Green Dot to provide a standard filament based on the same Terratek® line to be released in late-Fall 2015.The partnership between Green Dot and BioInspiration also provides a local expert for fielding additional inquiries regarding Terratek® materials from Germany and Europe.
BioInspiration is releasing WillowFlex, the resulting 3D Print Filament as a Kickstarter Campaign to give Makers and decentralized producers the first shot at accessing this innovative material. At the conclusion, WillowFlex will move into full production and into the hands of Makers and producers around the world.
WillowFlex Kickstarter Campaign