Scientists 3D Printed Biodegradable Leather That’s Recyclable

By: | May 11th, 2021

Image courtesy: Tufts University

Leather being versatile and durable material is widely used for centuries to made different types of things. But it has a large environmental footprint. For getting fine leather, the cow’s skin is treated through a particular procedure to obtain the finest form. The procedure involves the usage of harsh chemicals and a lot of water. 

So, Tufts University researchers have developed a new leather-like material out of silk. The wonderful material so produced offers mechanical properties comparable to those of real leather.

Silk and leather seem to be very pretty distant materials. However, scientists developed a material out of silk that is tougher, firmer, and more durable. The new material also retained flexibility and versatility. Moreover, the procedure requires only mild chemicals and can be done at room temperature.

Environmentally friendly

The material is not only derived from a sustainable source, but the material is also completely recyclable. Once a product completes its life, the material can be redissolved back into the silky slurry. Then it can be used to produce a new silk-leather product.

Moreover, the material can also be 3D printed into the required shape and would come at a cheaper cost. Furthermore, the new material is 100% biodegradable and would dissolve in soil.

Fiorenzo Omenetto, a co-author of the study, explains, “Our work is centered on the use of naturally-derived materials that minimize the use of toxic chemicals while maintaining material performance, so as to provide alternatives for products that are commonly and widely used today.”

He added, “By using silk, as well as cellulose from textile and agricultural waste and chitosan from shellfish waste, and all the relatively gentle chemistries used to combine them, we are making progress towards this goal.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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