Reproducing historical glassware with 3D printed algae

Whether as an alternative to PET bottles, footwear, ink, or bio-fuel, it would seem that algae are the future! In collaboration with various institutions, Studio Klarenbeek & Dros created a way to use starch from algae as a filament for 3D printing, to reproduce historical glassware.

After three years of research with Salga Seaweeds, Danvos, Wageningen University, the Biobased Lab in Breda and other institutions, Studio Klarenbeek & Dros, consisting of Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros, were invited to establish an open research and production lab called Algae Lab at the Luma Foundation in Arles, France. In particular, they research the potential of algae as alternative to non-biodegradable plastics.

Currently, there are a lot of developments going on in the field of bioplastic, to replace petrol-based plastic. Potato starch is a great source to make bioplastic, but this goes at the expense of our food and land. Some algae, however, also produce starch, without taking up land. In addition, they are not a source of food for us, and absorb CO2 while filtering the water. Studio Klarenbeek & Dros developed with Wageningen a renewable biopolymer containing both seaweed and potato starch, decreasing the amount of potatoes needed.

To make the bioplastic, locally sourced algae are dried and processed to create a material that can be used for 3D printing. The designers 3D scanned historical glassware from the collection of the Musée Départemental in Arles and reproduced them with 3D printed algae, cultivated in the lab.

The aim of the project is to prove that anything made from plastic can also be made from the 3D printed algae polymer: from shampoo bottles to tableware and rubbish bins. Studio Klarenbeek & Dros’ ambition is to provide all hotels, restaurants and caterers in Arles with tableware from the Algae Lab.

For another project by Eric Klarenbeek, click here.

Photos: Victor Picon / Antoine Raab / Florent Gardin