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 to demonstrate the prospects offered by 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.