Plant-based 3D printing

We believe in conscious manufacturing.

Our story is about taking control of the process and doing it better. That’s why we choose to 3D print our glasses, to avoid overproduction, reduce carbon emissions and drastically reduce waste by only making what’s needed.

Our approach to sustainability is being conscious of the problem and working toward the best solutions. Such as reducing waste, 3D printing components, not over-producing, designing lightweight, designing to last, using less material, and, where possible, not using fossil fuel-based polymers but plant-based instead.

Our plant-based material

We use plant-based nylon PA11 in the 3D printing of our glasses.

Why use PA 11?

Plant-based polymers are a significant step forward for the product, the industry, the consumer and most importantly, the planet. 

The carbon footprint is drastically reduced by up to 47 per cent compared with its fossil fuel-based counterparts.

PA 11 powders are recognised worldwide for superior toughness, durability, lightness, and processing versatility.

Extreme performance

PA 11 is a sustainably sourced extreme-performance material. It meets USP Class VI requirements for natural classification and uses intelligent supply chain management due to its short production cycle.

It outperforms fossil-fuel-based polymers from its increased ductility, elasticity, fatigue resistance, and impact resistance. Even at low temperatures, it performs much better than its fossil-fuel-based counterparts.

Supply chain

The castor is grown in India under a sustainable farming initiative, Pragati, which is incidentally the Hindi word for progress. The castor oil is turned into a plant-based polymer in France at Arkema’s factory, and the product is 3D printed in Europe by Materialise 3D.

47% less carbon

Carbon footprint

Every ton of plant-based carbon used instead of geological carbon is equivalent to removing one car from the road for a whole year. 

The energy used in producing the raw material (the castor plant) is solar and not carbon-emitting, like fossil fuel extraction from the ground. The castor plant also removes carbon from the atmosphere and is far more sustainable than fossil-fuel-based geological carbon as it’s part of the natural biogenic carbon cycle.

Plant-based polymers are 20% lighter than fossil-fuel-based polymers, reducing the energy used in the transportation and supply chain of the material and its products. And if those materials are used selectively with a manufacturing process such as 3D printing, you can reduce waste and harmful overproduction practices to reduce carbon output further.

The Pragati project

Arkema, which produces the plant-based polymer PA 11, is a significant driver of sustainable castor farming and a founding member of the Pragati project, which has trained several thousand farmers on good agricultural practices since 2016.

Castor is a monsoon crop, taking advantage of India’s natural weather phenomenon. And as a result, eighty per cent of the world’s castor seed is produced in India, representing approximately 1.2 million tons. It is inherently drought resistant, doesn’t cause deforestation, is not in competition with the animal or human food chain, it’s insect resistant, recyclable, and can be harvested 4-6 months after planting.

The Pragati Project is generating a livelihood for many villages and stimulating the farming economy of North Gujarat, India. It helps to naturally reduce carbon emissions and offers a valuable alternative to fossil fuel-based polymers.

So far, castor is grown by approximately 700,000 farmers in India alone. The education program has seen 45 Villages participate in soil and water testing regimens and a yield increase of roughly 50% since the initiative began. And over 5,200 hectares of Castor farming are now under the sustainable practices and principles of the project.

About Materialise 3D
Materialise 3D is one of the world’s most extensive and complete 3D printing facilities. We have worked together since the beginning: from rapid prototyping to design revisions to manufacturing the final frames. They put great energy into research and development that integrates new sustainable materials within their manufacturing processes.

About Arkema
Arkema are material science experts, offering a portfolio of first-class technologies that address the ever-growing demand for new and sustainable materials. They manufacture the plant-based PA 11 that we use to 3D print our frame components.

PA 11 FAQs 

What does plant-based mean?

It means that the material comes from a renewable plant source, the castor plant, and is not a fossil-fuel-based resource. Combined with 3D printing, plant-based polymers dramatically reduce the product’s carbon footprint, reducing waste and environmental impact.

What is PA 11 made from?

The base material for PA 11 is the castor plant. The seeds (often referred to as beans) get processed into plant oil, then converted by Arkema using their Amino11 chemistry into a high-performance polymer.

Is PA 11 plastic?

Yes, it’s a plant-based nylon that uses 47% less carbon to produce than the industry standard 3D printed material PA 12. It is also made in part of recycled material by appropriating waste from production processes. 

Is it recyclable?

Yes, but not yet at the end consumer level, the recycling happens at the manufacturing level taking material waste from industrial processes and recycling and reusing it back into the material.