About 3D Printing
Considering our current laser technology and computer-aided design, we have come a long way from the old models and prototypes that were laboriously built from wood or other materials. These could take days or weeks to construct, and were costly to produce. Making changes or alterations to the model was equally as difficult and time-consuming, especially if a consultant or third party was involved. This discouraged designers and inventors from making last minute improvements, or taking small details into account.
An idea called “rapid prototyping” evolved in the 1980s as a solution to this problem. Rapid prototyping uses automation to develop models and prototypes in hours or days, rather than the weeks that traditional prototyping would take. 3D printing is an automated method in which product designers can make their own rapid prototypes, in a matter of hours, using sophisticated machines similar to inkjet printers. A 3D printer is operated from a computer and produces a 3D model one layer at a time, from bottom to top, by repeatedly printing over the same area. The printer simultaneously deposits and fuses the material using a method known as “fused depositional modeling”. A 3D printer is able to quickly and automatically create a model by using a 3D computer-aided design drawing to produce countless two-dimensional, cross-sectional layers, that lay on top of one another. Instead of ink, the 3D printer deposits layers of molten plastic (or other compounds), and fuses them together with the existing structure with an adhesive or UV light. Instead of toner cartridges, 3D printers are loaded with spools of plastic or other material.
Innosek is a leading innovation and additive manufacturing company here in Buffalo. Since its inception, Innosek has helped companies both large and small develop products and custom/retired parts for their inventions, equipment, and manufacturing processes. Innosek bridges the gap between prototyping and injection molding, and helps customers rapidly develop or produce smaller batch quantities where expensive tooling and molds are not needed. This keeps customers’ prices down when compared to injection molding and machining, and it also enables them to go to market faster. Founded in 2018, Innosek has quickly become a leading resource to the Buffalo Manufacturing and Startup scene. They’ve worked with, and developed products for, startups and companies like ACV Auctions, Panasonic, Aviate Audio, Tesla, 3AM innovations, and many more. As the company grows and evolves, the 3D printing of various materials has become a huge competitive advantage for Innosek. Currently, Innosek is able to 3D Print flexible, high temperature-resistant, glass, wood, and carbon fiber infused plastics, and now, hemp! Yeah…they 3D print hemp…
About Hemp 3D Printing
Hemp 3D printing is an innovative and sustainable way to produce new products for a variety of purposes. Here is a brief overview of how it works:
First, the raw plant material must be obtained. The material can be sourced from a local hemp farmer that has excess plants, or a hemp processor that has byproduct plant material that would typically be discarded. Next, the particle size of the material is reduced. This can be accomplished with a blender for smaller batches, or with large production-grade milling equipment, such as the KannaMill (proudly made here in Buffalo), for larger quantities. After the particle size is reduced, the material is mixed with Polylactic Acid (PLA) pellets. PLA is a biodegradable polymer base commonly used in 3D printing. Once the hemp and PLA are combined, the resulting mixture is sucked into an extruder and melted down. At this point, dye can typically be added to achieve a desired color. For hemp filaments, the dyes are usually left out and the finished product is a brown, earthy color that is particularly characteristic of hemp filament. The extruder then pushes the semi-molten material out through a hole with a small diameter, forming a continuous string, or filament. Then, the filament is run through a warm water bath, which cools and solidifies the material and ensures it maintains its size. After this, the filament is measured to ensure it is the correct size for the 3D printer. Finally, the filament is then wound onto a spool and is ready to be loaded into the printer.