Partnership enables a more sustainable future with Circular Additive Manufacturing 

circular additive manufacturing

To make 3D printing more sustainable, LEHVOSS Group, a global material compounder operating on high-performance materials for 3D printing under the brand name LUVOCOM® 3F, Drywise a branded product of Thought3D, also known in 3D printing for its Magigoo branded products, and UltiMaker, the global leader in professional 3D printing have partnered up with Aquafil, an Italian pioneer of the circular economy. The aim of this partnership is to bring to the market a circular PA6 material, that is manufactured from ECONYL® and renewable resources and that can itself be recycled at the end of its useful life into new raw material. 

This new circular material is composed for more than 85% of ECONYL (regenerated polyamide 6), chemically recycled by Aquafil, and the remaining part of other polyamides from renewable sources with almost no additives. This compound ensures the possibility, to have 100% chemically recyclable filaments and products in the future.  This however means that water uptake in the filament cannot be tuned as it is usually done on the LUVOCOM 3F product range. The affinity to water of this polyamide is so great that the material is no longer printable after just a couple of hours, even when dried and stored in a low-humidity chamber (drybox). This poses a serious challenge for 3D printing, severely limiting its potential. 

Aquafil Regenerated Polyamide 6 ECONYL

Aquafil Regenerated Polyamide 6 ECONYL 

Aquafil provides the regenerated Polyamide 6 feedstock, ECONYL, made from the chemical regeneration of a wide range of waste material, such as old carpets, fishing nets, etc. ECONYL among other products, is also used to produce 3D filaments. The regeneration technology could be used also in the future to repurpose 3D prints printed with this material when these are discarded as waste the end of their useful life.  

Drywise is the only filament dryer on the market that enables this material. With its active in-line filament drying architecture, Drywise removes the moisture from the section of filament that is being fed through the dryer to the printer as it is printing. This ensures consistently dried filament is used to print the parts and hence eliminates time-dependent moisture uptake issues. The first and last layers will have the same material quality, regardless of the state in which the filament started. Drywise requires minimal user input and only requires a very short setup time to initiate printing. 

As this material cannot receive additives for thermal stabilization, not submitting the filament to multiple drying cycles is essential to prevent material degradation as well, which makes the Drywise dryer a great fit as it only dries the material which will be used. The filament is printable on the UltiMaker S3 and S5 printers and the print profile can be downloaded from the Cura Marketplace. 

circular additive manufacturing

Circular Additive Manufacturing Cycle by Aquafil, Lehvoss Group, Thought3D and UltiMaker 

However, the big challenge ahead, if not the biggest, is the reverse logistics of end of life material. Therefore, LEHVOSS will start with a pilot project in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) which will benefit from Aquafil’s vast experience on the topic and on our distributors, to make sure to put in place a reverse logistic system whereby the used parts can be collected at the end of their useful life and sent to Aquafil for the chemical regeneration. The pilot will be set up during the year 2023.