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Is It Possible to 3D Print With Beeswax?

3D printing is an exciting field that is growing and expanding daily, and according to Forbes, although relatively new, this engineering field is forecast to have a bright future. Developers are engineering new types of printers to produce many different kinds of materials. Some of the top materials utilized in 3D printing include plastics, metals, concrete, paper, stem cells, and even food. 

It is possible to use beeswax for 3D printing. Two Dutch designers interested in a sustainable and reusable material for 3D printing invented the process of utilizing beeswax to 3D print easily disposable objects.  

This article discusses the advantages of 3D printing with beeswax and explains how the process works. It also details what an extruder is and how it is used in 3D printing. Read on to learn more about the process of beeswax 3D printing and how it is changing the landscape of the 3D printing industry.  

Why Use Beeswax for 3D Printing

Beeswax is an excellent option for 3D printing because it’s natural, environmentally friendly, reusable, and recyclable. Using beeswax allows you to print 3d objects that won’t contribute to pollution and the excess of non-biodegradable trash in the world once you’re finished with them.

Two Dutch designers, Oliver van Herpt and Joris van Tubergen were looking to create beautiful and practical objects that could be recycled or reused instead of discarded and left to pollute the environment. They found that with beeswax, they could achieve this objective and lead others to develop similar processes.  

The two designers believed that throwaway products were a way to create jobs and provide economic growth, but, at this point, we should steer toward more sustainable materials and processes. They saw the pollution and waste that occurred with the mass production of plastics and other materials and desired to find a pollution-free alternative. 

They believe that if people want temporary things consumed at a high rate, beeswax is a choice substance to provide those things sustainably. At this time, their beeswax 3D printing projects have been more along the lines of artwork. However, they foresee that we will be able to reasonably use this process in the future for food-safe or biology-related 3D printing projects.  

What Are the Advantages of 3D Printing With Beeswax?

The advantages of using beeswax are that it is recyclable and that a small amount goes a long way. Beeswax also has a low melting point and hardens once formed into the desired shape through 3D printing. It is an all-natural substance, which makes it a desirable material with which to work.  

  • Beeswax is recyclable. Once the beeswax structure has been used and is no longer needed, it can quickly be melted down and recycled with minimal waste. This ability to recycle the material means that a small amount of beeswax can be used repeatedly without pollution. It is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly material for use in 3D printing. 
  • Beeswax is an excellent medium for 3D printing. The beeswax is soft and malleable and serves as an ideal material for the process of 3D printing. The melting point range of beeswax is between 62°C and 64°C (143.6°F and 147.2°F), which is relatively low. Once the material is extruded into the proper form, the beeswax hardens and holds its shape.  
  • Beeswax is all-natural. Because the bees themselves make the wax, it contains no artificial color and no artificial scent, making it an environmentally friendly medium for 3D printing.

How Do You 3D Print With Beeswax?

3D printing with beeswax is possible because of a special extruder, the component that ejects the material, which fits onto a desktop-sized 3D printer. The extruder discharges the liquid beeswax in layers into the 3D printing volume.  

A layman’s explanation of 3D printing itself is that an object is taken and sliced into many thousands of images.

Here is a video that you may watch about 3D printing:

Using a medium such as beeswax or another substance, these thousands of images are printed similar to paper printing. The difference is that in 3D printing, you are printing them with an extruder into space as a material.  

The liquid or semi-liquid material – in this case, beeswax – then solidifies and becomes hard, forming the intended structure or piece of artwork. The beeswax holds its shape in the desired form; however, it can quickly be melted down and reused for other projects. 

What Is an Extruder?

The extruder of a 3D printer is the portion of the printer that ejects the liquid or semi-liquid material into the printing volume in successive layers to form the 3D image.  

At times, the extruder only ejects a bonding material that mixes with another substance in powder form. The bonding material and the powder mix to solidify and form the 3D image.  

DIY 3D Printing With Beeswax

A sculpture and engineer in Los Angeles, James Peterson, has developed a way to get bees to do their own 3D printing in his 3B Project. The process is similar to regular 3D printing; only the work was all done by the bees.

Using the ingenuity of 80,000 bees and the wax they produced, he turned the hive inside out and placed a sculpture within a transparent shell to observe the bees producing the honey into the shape of the sculpture. The result is an image made of beeswax that the bees produce themselves.

Summary 

3D printing itself has a promising future. As it continues to evolve, 3D printing will become less expensive and more mainstream. Design software will become easier to use and more integrated, and the industry will become more competitive.  

It can be formidable to keep up with the developing trends in such a rapidly changing industry. 

Although relatively new, the process of using beeswax is an exciting development. It’s a sustainable process that uses an all-natural substance to create recyclable and reusable 3D images. Using beeswax for 3D printing is an innovative endeavor that will likely become more mainstream.