Recycling of 3D Printable Thermoplastic Cellulose-Composite

Kirsi Immonen (Corresponding Author), Sini Metsä-Kortelainen, Juha Nurmio, Amélie Tribot, Tuomas Turpeinen, Atte Mikkelson, Tomi Kalpio, Otto-Ville Kaukoniemi, Heli Kangas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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3D printing enables sustainable product innovations through novel design, reduced use of materials, and local manufacturing. Sustainable 3D printing can further be realized using recyclable materials. Cellulose is an abundantly available renewable material. Modified celluloses, such as thermoplastic cellulose esters, are widely used in injection molding applications. The aim of this research was to study the properties of a cellulose-based composite (cellulose acetate propionate (CAP) polymer matrix with 20 wt. % microcellulose) in injection molding and granular extrusion-based 3D printing processes over multiple recycles. The impact of the processing methods on the composite’s properties were investigated. Both injection molded and 3D printed samples were ground with plastic grinding mill to particle sizes below 3 mm after each preparation stage and reused as such in the next process cycle. Morphology, mechanical and thermal properties, and material degradation were analyzed. The thermoplastic cellulose-based compound was found to be directly recyclable for both processes without the need for any additional compounding steps. The polymer matrix was able to withstand at least seven processing cycles without degradation. However, microcellulose was found to be more sensitive to thermal stress. The mechanical and thermal properties of the cellulose-based composites remained close to initial levels throughout.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2734
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This research was funded by the EU-project NOVUM, grant number 768604.


  • 3D printing
  • cellulose
  • recycling
  • thermoplastic
  • cellulose-composite
  • cellulose acetate propionate
  • granulate printing
  • injection molding


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