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PolyTerra PLA, the environmentally friendly 3D printing filament

Although Additive Manufacturing is being proposed as a solution to the negative environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing, experts tell us there are still many ways AM itself needs to become more environmentally friendly. One is by using materials that are more durable, since plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in the AM industry. Possibly Polymaker, the international maker of 3D printing materials, has a solution for that. In 2021, the company introduced a new 3D printing filament, PolyTerra PLA(+), which the company hopes will lead the next generation of environmentally friendly filaments.

PolyTerra is made by combining organic minerals with PLA, significantly reducing the plastic content in the filament. According to Polymaker, PolyTerra prints exactly like traditional PLA, good news for PLA enthusiasts as they do not need to change print settings. Moreover, the overhang and bridging capabilities can apparently surpass even PLA. In comparison to their other PLA products, the company notes that the material’s mechanical properties offer a wide range of potential applications, with material that is stronger than regular PLA but with good stiffness.

The material can be printed with a wide print temperature range of 190-230°C and can be used plug-and-play on all extrusion-based 3D printers. The surface finish of 3D printed parts is uniquely matte, hiding the layer lines even when printing with large layer heights, and is available in four pastel colors in addition to ten regular colors, all inspired by nature.

Polyterra Environmental Impact

PolyTerra™ PLA was created to be as environmentally friendly as possible for a plastic filament. Not only is it made to reduce plastic content, but it is also wrapped on a recycled cardboard spool with recycled labels and outer packaging. All unnecessary paper was also removed to reduce waste. The company also promises that to offset the carbon created to make and ship a spool of the material, they will plant one tree for every spool sold.

These trees will be delivered locally at the point of purchase in partnership with One Tree Planted, an eco-friendly charity that plants trees in countries around the world for one dollar. Trees at maturity can suck up 22 kg of carbon dioxide each year, more than enough to offset the 4 kg needed to make a coil of PolyTerra.

While more certainly needs to be done to reduce plastic consumption and address the current ecological crisis, materials such as PolyTerra are certainly a step in the right direction. We expect to see more innovations in AM materials in the coming years to make sustainable alternatives. This allows AM to truly claim itself as the environmentally friendly alternative to traditional manufacturing.

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