Sustainable advances in SLA/DLP 3D printing materials and processes

Erin M. Maines, Mayuri K. Porwal, Christopher J. Ellison, Theresa M. Reineke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

129 Scopus citations


3D printing is an essential tool for rapid prototyping in a variety of sectors such as automotive and public health. The 3D printing market is booming, and it is projected that it will continue to thrive in the coming years. Unfortunately, this rapid growth has led to an alarming increase in the amount of 3D printed plastic waste. 3D printing processes such as stereolithography (SLA) and digital light projection (DLP) in particular generally produce petroleum-based thermosets that are further worsening the plastic pollution problem. To mitigate this 3D printed plastic waste, sustainable alternatives to current 3D printing materials must be developed. The present review provides a comprehensive overview of the sustainable advances in SLA/DLP 3D printing to date and offers a perspective on future directions to improve sustainability in this field. The entire life cycle of 3D printed parts has been assessed by considering the feedstock selection and the end-of-use of the material. The feedstock selection section details how renewable feedstocks (from lignocellulosic biomass, oils, and animal products) or waste feedstocks (e.g., waste cooking oil) have been used to develop SLA/DLP resins. The end-of-use section describes how materials can be reprocessed (e.g.thermoplastic materials or covalent adaptable networks) or degraded (through enzymatic or acid/base hydrolysis of sensitive linkages) after end-of-use. In addition, studies that have employed green chemistry principles in their resin synthesis and/or have shown their sustainable 3D printed parts to have mechanical properties comparable to commercial materials have been highlighted. This review also investigates how aspects of sustainability such as recycling for feedstock/end-of-use or biodegradation of 3D printed parts in natural environments can be incorporated as future research directions in SLA/DLP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6863-6897
Number of pages35
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 10 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge our funding sources for this work, the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers at the University of Minnesota, a National Science Foundation supported Center for Chemical Innovation (CHE-1901635) and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (to E. M. Maines) under grant no. CON-75851, project 00074041. The authors acknowledge the Sustainable Polymer Framework developed by the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers at the University of Minnesota that provided insight for the layout of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021.


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