Hemp for 3D printing

It was never going to take long. The winning combination of a resource friendly, abundant crop and the incredible technology that is 3D printing was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Here’s five stages from hemp to fibre from Matterlab:


Matterlab in New York have formulated two new 3D printing textiles, using hemp and an Amazonian nut called Tagua.

Tagua has been used in South America long before the advent of plastic, but has now been relegated to artisanal work, figurines and shirt buttons. In the last few years however, it has had a strong revival because it serves as a bio/organic replacement for plastic and bears an uncanny resemblance to Ivory.

We all know how useful hemp is. What else can you grow that will replace both cotton and rice, with one crop, at a fraction of the cost in water and additives? In an area like the Murray-Darling, it’s a gold mine waiting to happen. Saving the Murray is incidental next to the huge potential for that crop.

John Muir hemp farming


One wonders if 3D printing with a material that resembles ivory will save the elephants, too.

The first person in Australia who starts 3D printing parts for go karts and small motor bikes from hemp fibres will probably get pretty rich. Or at least have a chance to work on their passion. As well as making a whole bunch of farmers very happy.

Can we do it before China and India get into it? Or will we be left behind again. Hopefully there’s plenty of scope for International collaboration, since 3D printing often makes use of Open Source systems. It’s a whole new way of doing business if you’re accustomed to cut-throat competition. Relax and swap notes instead. The future is about identifying opportunities and meeting needs rather than clawing your way up the corporate ladder in a suit you hate anyway. Who needs cubicles when we have video conferencing?

I’d love to see someone making tailor made suits from hemp fibre. That would be delightful. You can make just about everything else from the stuff.


About Syburi

Witch, bitch, creatrix; hippie, dreamer, gardener. Lover of books, music, rescue animals, piss and vinegar.
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