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Cotton Incorporated Highlights 3D Collection


What would it take to reduce plastic waste and replace it with natural materials that have a better sustainability profile? According to a post from the company, that’s one of the questions researchers at Cotton Incorporated asked themselves before delving into a multi-year project looking at cotton’s potential within 3D printing and injection molding.

Key to this development is the use of Additive manufacturing (AM), the process of creating an object one layer at a time and a term applied to 3D printing, particularly when used in prototyping, though now also used in other ways as well. There are advantages – the ability to create better performing and lower-cost products along with opportunities for mass-scale customization with potentially reduced time to market – but there are also drawbacks. Many 3D printed products used in AM are often made of petroleum-based, unsustainable raw materials.

Cotton Incorporated began working with research partners in 2016 to see if cotton could have a place in the 3D printing and injection molding world. Cotton Incorporated has achieved that goal in the use of a cotton and polylactic acid (PLA) 3D filament to create products for an exploratory outdoor collection. (PLA is typically made from sugars derived from corn starch, cassava or sugarcane.)

The 3D Camping Collection aims to support the outdoorist leave-no-trace concept with nature-made material that can also return to earth. Items include a tent stake, tent pole splint, flashlight housing, fishing lure, mug, bowl, and buckle.