University of Toronto researchers using McDonald’s UCO to produce 3D printing resin

February 24, 2020 |

In Canada, researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough have, for the first time, turned waste cooking oil – from the deep fryers of a local McDonald’s – into a high-resolution, biodegradable 3D printing resin.

Using waste cooking oil for 3D printing has significant potential. Not only is it cheaper to make, the plastics made from it break down naturally unlike conventional 3D printing resins.

After noting the molecules used in commercial resins were similar to fats found in cooking oils, researchers wondered whether one could be created using waste cooking oil. 

One challenge was finding old cooking oil from a restaurant’s deep fryers to test in the lab. Despite contacting several major national fast food chains, the only one that responded was McDonald’s. The oil used in the research was from one of the hamburger chain’s Scarborough restaurants.

Researchers used a straightforward one-step chemical process in the lab, using about one liter of used cooking oil to make 420 milliliters of resin. The resin was then used to print a plastic butterfly that showed features down to 100 micrometers and was structurally and thermally stable, meaning it wouldn’t crumble or melt above room temperature.

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Category: Research

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