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Sustainable Star Wars: BioInspiration Experiments with Their Compostable WillowFlex Filament

by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments

darthvaderI’m not certain how Darth Vader feels of environmental issues. My guess is which he doesn’t give a bantha’s behind of the ecological impact of his actions, considering his penchant for vaporizing entire planets. The man liked to leave his mark, which is why he’d most likely be most dishappy to learn which his iconic helmet is now fully compostable, thanks to BioInspiration, the German filament developer behind the biodegradable, corn starch-based filament WillowFlex.

WillowFlex was added last year, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The flexible, nontoxic filament, as well as all objects printed with it, can be safely composted should you at any time break or simply tire of your printed items. It’s guilt-free manufacturing at its finest. Not just are BioInspiration’s founders passionate of environmental conservation, they’re in addition massive Star Wars fans, so in honor of the new film’s release, they decided to print a few fun stuff with their WillowFlex. They created and printed a finely detailed miniature X-Wing of the original trilogy, as well as Darth Vader’s helmet – not the original, but the melty destroyed one which can be seen in Kylo Ren’s designated moping chamber in The Force Awakens.

While WillowFlex filament is available in ten colors, further painting of the printed models was yet needed. In keeping with their eco-friendly philosophy, BioInspiration decided to go with biodegradable watercolor paints, and were happy to see which they took to the models beautifully.


“We were surprised (at) how accepting the material is!” said Thorsten Perl, CVO and Co-founder of BioInspiration. “One of the initial things we tried was the ecological watercolors of my son’s backpack. And it bonded well to the WillowFlex toy. And for the reason it is watercolor – if you want to change the painting of your 3D printed toy, you can simply wash it away and paint again. Let your creativity flow to Sustainability!”

BioInspiration_Logo_v7_Tagline_JPGThere are a lot of environmentally safe paints out there to experiment with; after all, if you’re attempting to be eco-friendly by printing a fewthing with a compostable filament, it hardly makes sense to finish it off with a harmful, non-biodegradable paint job. According to BioInspiration, WillowFlex’s matte surface is highly receptive to watercolor. I like the thought of it being washable and repaintable, too – you understand, simply in case you get bored and want to paint your X-Wing in holiday colors for a while, as an example.

BioInspiration simply finished shipping the last round of rewards of their Kickstarter campaign this past week; they raised well over their €8,450 goal by the time the campaign ended. The company is now looking for “3D printing pioneers and early adopters for further experiments with the world’s initial flexible filament of compostable raw materials.” You can contact them here. In the meantime, BioInspiration remains dedicated to furthering the production and marketing of organic, safe materials, with help of a partnership with the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. According to their Kickstarter page, they will be following up their WillowFlex line with a standard Willow filament, and and so, presumably, extra
organic and biodegradable filaments. BioInspiration may be a young company, but they appear to be well on the road to furthering what their slogan calls “Organic Material Evolution.” Discuss this story in the WillowFlex forum thread on 3DPB.com.