Researchers use milk proteins for 3D printing


Researchers use milk proteins for 3D printing

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Platteville are looking at milk for uses beyond food.

Mechanical engineering professor John Obielodan and chemistry associate professor Joseph Wu are experimenting with dairy proteins and lignin from grasses as a material for 3-D printing.

Wu says he’s encouraged by the research so far. “Me, and my student working over the summer tried to turn this into a thermoplastic. We see a lot of challenges, but we also see some promising aspects.”

And, Wu says the materials they are using are biodegradable. “it’s very clean. Compared to the petroleum-based polymer, this offers a lot of advantage.”

Wu says there is more work to do, as the early materials experiments show some drawbacks. “Milk protein can actually make a very strong polymer material, but one thing we also noticed is that the polymer by itself if it’s made from pure casein or pure whey, they are very brittle and they might have an issue if we want to develop that into a product.”

The research is made possible by Wisconsin’s Dairy Innovation Hub, which received industry and state government funding to strengthen the dairy industry.

Wu and Obielodan presented their research progress during the Dairy Business Association’s virtual Dairy Strong Conference.

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