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Bioplastics are biodegradable plastics whose components are deriveD entirely or almost entirely from renewable raw materials.
Bioplastics are composed of three basic parts: one or more polymers, one or more plasticizers, plus one or more additives.
Polymers give the plastic its strength, plasticizers give it its bendable and mouldable qualities, and additives give it other properties (color, durability, etc). (Green Plastics)

Biopolymers: agar, Psyllium ovata, gelatin,
Plasticizers: glycerine/glycerol
Additives: ground coffee, natural dyes, ground eggshell, dried flower leaves,

All above tests are made by me at the Iaac Fab Lab Barcelona. We used 2 recipies witht the same ingredients but with a variety in quantities.
General principle: The more glycerine or glycerol, the more the bioplastic will be flexible, but less strong. Less glycerine is stronger bioplastic but more rigid.
The material made with the basic recipe starts to harden rather fast. Adding vinegar and/or coffee ground makes it thicker. Too much glycerine gives it a very jelly look. The support on which it dries is important for the finishing touch. Drying on paper trays gives a nice mat shade, while drying in plastic trays gives it a very slick and neat finishing.
The samples we made with little glycerine are hardening out fast. The gelatin gives a very clear look once the sheets harden out in a thin layer.
We made samples with hemp fibers in it - to make it stronger but still flexible. We also did tests adding platics bubbles and fabrics. It is also possible to cast objects in a thicker layer of bioplastic, acting as natural resin or epoxy, see the voronoi example (below).

In a second batch (see darker brown samples in pictures above) I experimented with the basic recipe + grounded coffee (2 tbs and 4 tbs). I might use less glycerol for that recipe, the substance was too jelly. I made also some samples wih Psyllium (or a surrogate: Plantaben). I had to add much much more water than prescripted, the result is a thick gravy and probably it will take a few days before the water will evaporate. But the first results are absolutely promising, if the layers are cast thin enough. After a few days the sheets dry out very hard. I should find a good mix of ingredients (more glycerol?) to keep them a bit more flexible.
When I came back from Berlin after a few days, the samples with the Psyllium-mix (the ones where I had to add a lot of water) were full of mold. Same for the thick casted samples with gelatin and coffee ground. The samples that were casted in a finer sheet were all OK.

In a third batch (started in Berlin, early May 2016) I experimented with Agar vs. Gelatine. The Agard works quite well, but the film is ultra thin and very fragile. I should make a new Agar-test with a thicker layer to check out the materials' comportment.
The test with gelatine hardens out fast but takes up to 2 à 3 days to dry completely. I experimented with the basic recipe and added brewed coffee liquid, ground coffee (used) and crushed eggshells. I casted the 3 experiments in a similar plexi container, and on a similar thickness (±8mm when liquid). The exp. with ground coffee has the thickest substance, and after 2 days (still not hard) shows a burst in the surface. The brewed coffee exp. (in 2 large containers) gives no problem, and in the crushed eggshell exp. the grains of eggshell sink to the bottom of the container, which makes that the top of the cast is caramel-brownish, and the bottom is broken-white. I am curious to see the result when the material will be completely hardened.

materials for the Textile Academy at FabLab barcelona:


the basic ingredients:
Glycerol, glycerine or sorbitol
Agar, gelatin or starch
(adding agar makes the bioplastic longer lasting and is good against britleness)
Dusting with babypowder prevents stickyness
Handy to work with a readymade 1% glycerol solution
Releaser: teflon spray, vaseline
Adding a bit of wax can make the material more hydrophobic (as normally bioplastics will dilude with water)
Some drops of essential oil can be added to prevent from molding.

the basic recipe:
240 ml of water or 20tbs water + 10tbs black coffee
48 g of gelatin powder or 4 tbs gelatin powder
12 g of glycerol (ev. less glycerol) or 1tbs glycerol
quantities can be adjusted but ratio is 20:4:1
add 12g of vinegar to make the mixture stronger (not necessary)
grounded coffee or other extras can be added - make a thicker mass.

basic recipe for larger surface:
400ml water
80gr gelatine
20gr glycerine (or more for more flexible)

more flexible:
240 water, 50 gelatine, 25 glycerine

the alternative recipe (for thin sheets):
6gr of gelatin
3,2g of glycerol
160ml of water

agar recipes:
3.0 g agar (2g agar)
180 ml water + 4gr glycerol (120ml water + 3 gr glycerol)

7gr agar agar
6gr glycerol
400ml water

2.25 g sorbitol
2.25 g gelatin
2.25 g agar
180 ml of 1% glycerol solution
240 ml (1 cup) water

psylium (by volume, spoon of 15ml)
20/22 unities water, depending on the viscosity wanted
4 unities psylium powder
1 unity glycerin

3,5 gr plantaben
100ml water
2 tbs vinegar
1 tbs glycerol

algae bioplastics

1. crushed moss (morter/pestel): 125ml water+crushed moss; 24gr gelatine; 10gr glycerine (rigid result)
2. filtered algae (piscina): 125 algae water; 24gr gelatine; 6gr glycerine (rigid result)
3. 400ml water with blended spirulina; 80gr gelatine; 50gr glycerine; 30gr sugar (flexible result)
4. 300ml water with a lot of flat green algae; 54gr gelatine; 30gr glycerine; 16gr sugar (most flexible result)
5. 280ml water with green/brown algae; 52,5gr gelatine; 28,5gr glycerine; 22gr sugar (stiffer result)
6. 300ml water with fine red algae; 54,5gr gelatine; 37gr glycerine; 17,5gr sugar (little bit more stiff)
7. 300ml water + fine squeezed green algae; 45gr gelatine; 35gr glycerine; 9gr sugar

fruit pulp bioplastics, experimental recipe

- blue grapes pulp (135gr)
- 500 ml water
- 50 gr gelatine
- 50 gr glycerine

large bioplastic gelatine (75x75), several layers

- layer 1: 2000ml quince-juice, 150gr gelatine, 200gr glycerine | additive: sand (300gr???), coffee, nescafe
⇒ on transparent fabric

- layer 1: 2000ml WATER, 300gr gelatine, 200gr glycerine | additives: sand from Ostend, Madder root, coffee, passion fruit, lemon peels, white sand, alkanet, avocado, banana, …

bioplastic vegan arabic gum

- 1 spoon (15ml) arabic gum
- 1 spoon (15ml) glycerine
- 6 spoons (15ml each) water
mix, cold. Add pigments.
Surface covered ± 40cm diameter. Drying time: never! A disaster!

experiment: bioplastic with sea water + organic additives

- 2000ml north sea water
- 300 gr gelatine
- 200 gr glycerine
- additives

some ideas:
Harvesting seaweed
Cast objects into the bioplastic
Add coffee ground, crushed eggshells, orange peel to the basic recipe

recipe used for incapsulating moss:

480ml water; 80gr gelatine; 35gr glycerine; 15gr sugar
recuperation of half of the above mixture + 200ml green algae & water (+extra glycerine):
240ml water; 40gr gelatine; 200ml water with green algae; 32 gr glycerine; 7gr sugar

lamination in the vacuum machine:
Add several thin layers of still flexible bioplastic sheets
Put them accross each other on/in the mold

Make Materials Sense (Glimps):
Bioplastics met algae.
Start met koud procede: 250gr. water (or fruit juice), 5gr glycerine (1 tabel spoon), 1,5 table spoon of agar). Add all kinds of dried additives (herbs, fruit peels: rubarber, lemon, mandarin, banana, …). Mix and grind all the additives.
When all ingredients are mixed, put the mix on the heater and heat till froth starts to show up.
Pour the result in a mold. This recipe stiffens rather fast -a few hours- before it can be unmolded.

Materials (check also Insta of Make Materials Sense): algae, eggpacking cardboard, shells, fruitpulps and peels, eucalyptus, banana, wool, beans, fishbones…
The bioplastic can be used as well as primary material for the things you want to make, as well as a bindeer to stick materials together (for ex. a lot of woodschips, pressed in a mold and kept together with bioplastics as a glue).
Finished bioplastic can be water-protected with beeswax mixed with terpentine or lineseed oil.

Regular Bioplastic

- 240ml water
- 48gr gelatine
- 12gr glycerine
- 320ml water
- 64gr gelatine
- 16gr glycerine

Large Rectangular Pink Bioplastic on Aluminium

versie 1: goed voor halve plaat
- Recipient: glass table top covered with aluminium paper
- 2400ml water
- 400gr gelatine
- 265gr glycerine
- RedBeet powder: 20gr, 15gr, 12gr

versie 2: toplaag voor de ganse plaat
- 3000ml water
- 500gr gelatine
- 330gr glycerine
- kleur additives optional

Gegoten op glazen toplaag van 200cm x 60cm. Krimp bij drogen.
Droogtijd minstens 1 volle week, in de winter met hulp van electrische blazer.
Snelle schimmelvorming bij trage droging.
De extra toplaag was niet echt nodig, de plastic is nu redelijk dik.
De sterkte komt pas bij volledige droging, dus bij omdraaien zeer voorzichtig zijn! Of versterkende vezels gebruiken.

Bioplastic op rechthoekig venster @ Mateus - 30.08.2023

- 1400 water (of rode druivensap)
- 170gr gelatine
- 200 gr glycerine
- ongeveer 150gr gemalen gedroogde schillen van groene druiven, of gemixte rode druiven (nat)
Stijft op na ± 24u, bij een T° van ±27C°, zeker nog een paar dagen laten uitdrogen.
Komt makkelijker van het glas los wanneer totaal droog.

bioplastic with Agar agar

Process: (heated) Ag02
- Agar agar: 12 grams
- Glycerol: 18 ml
- Water: 400 ml

Add agar, water and glycerine into a pot.
Cook over medium heat and stir until the solution starts to boil and becomes viscous.
With a spoon remove any froth, so that the bioplastic will have a glossy, smooth surface.
Tape down a wooden frame on a non stick surface and pour in the solution.

snakeskin with agar, first try:
- agar agar: 3 gr
- glycerol: 4,5 gr
- water: 100 ml
⇒ 100ml is not enough to cover complete snakeskin. Agar takes time to dry and is very fragile.
The pink (beetroot) snakeskin, made with gelatine instead of agar, is much stronger

17/01/2021: prepareren cellen voor tentoonstelling WOVEN BY NATURE

- altijd werken met Agarose Standard (for elektrophorese - Carl Roth) -
- Phytagel en andere agar agar zijn NIET goed om te werken met Synechocystis
- 1 glazen cel is ong. 300ml van inhoud
⇒ 300ml + 4gr agarose in microwave (meestal 2 x 3 minuten)
⇒ ± 20 min. destilleren in drukketel
⇒ 8 ml alga-grow toevoegen en cellen vullen
⇒ laten afkoelen tot ± 37°C en ± 10ml Synechocystis inspuiten

More research-info:
chitosan & bioplastics
bioplastics research
crabs, bees and bioplastics
Make Material Sense

bioplastics.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/31 16:14 by ami