Lignin: A Biopolymer from Forestry Biomass for Biocomposites and 3D Printing

Materials (Basel). 2019 Sep 16;12(18):3006. doi: 10.3390/ma12183006.


Biopolymers from forestry biomass are promising for the sustainable development of new biobased materials. As such, lignin and fiber-based biocomposites are plausible renewable alternatives to petrochemical-based products. In this study, we have obtained lignin from Spruce biomass through a soda pulping process. The lignin was used for manufacturing biocomposite filaments containing 20% and 40% lignin and using polylactic acid (PLA) as matrix material. Dogbones for mechanical testing were 3D printed by fused deposition modelling. The lignin and the corresponding biocomposites were characterized in detail, including thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD), antioxidant capacity, mechanical properties, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Although lignin led to a reduction of the tensile strength and modulus, the reduction could be counteracted to some extent by adjusting the 3D printing temperature. The results showed that lignin acted as a nucleating agent and thus led to further crystallization of PLA. The radical scavenging activity of the biocomposites increased to roughly 50% antioxidant potential/cm2, for the biocomposite containing 40 wt % lignin. The results demonstrate the potential of lignin as a component in biocomposite materials, which we show are adequate for 3D printing operations.

Keywords: 3D printing; biocomposites; biopolymers; lignin; polylactic acid (PLA).