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Maker Materials - EspressoPLA & EspressoCLAY

To realize our vision of a sustainable ecosystem at our maker caf, JavaJet is developing two

new maker materials: EspressoPLA and EspressoClay. Both of these materials use spent coffee

grounds that have been diverted from their waste streams and reclaimed as an additive for the

materials. Makers may use the EspressoPLA, an FDM material, in a MakerBot Desktop 3D Printer to

create prototypes. Or they may choose to use the EspressoCLAY to mold and shape coffee cups and

other prototypes.

For our project our group teamed up with Black Sheep Coffee and Stratasys Materials R&D to

develop EspressoPLA. The EspressoPLA was created by the following material processing lifecycle.

Coffee Beans

High quality, fair trade, organic coffee beans sourced from around the world.

Black Sheep Coffee

Black Sheep Coffee is a family owned caf and artisan roaster located in South Saint Paul,

Minnesota. The caf offers coffee by-the-cup which is made to order on a single-brew Clover

machine from freshly roasted and ground coffee beans.


Espressox Additive

Exhausted coffee grounds are diverted from their normal waste stream to be further processed

into an espresso additive. The coffee grounds are first dried in an oven at 350F, then milled into a

fine grit and powder mixture, and finally classified into a light powder. To mill the coffee grounds into

a fine grit and powder we needed to find a way to pulverize the grounds. Our solution was to create a

custom 3D printed ball mill tumbler and attaching it to a Kitchen-Aid mixer. The final particle size of

the espresso additive is between 100 300 microns.


Compounded EspressoPLA - Pellets

Compounding consists of preparing plastic formulations by mixing polymers and additives in a

molten state by means of extrusion. EspressoPLA was compounded by mixing the polymer polylactic

acid and the Espressox additive, a concentration of 15%, using a twin screw and die extruder. The

specialized formulation was extruded into a two solid monofilaments, quenched in a water trough and

then chopped into small pellets. The pellets were then collected and placed in a desiccant air dryer to

remove any excess moisture. Samples of the compounded EspressoPLA pellets were sent out for

material analysis and testing. Approximately 30lbs of EspressoPLA pellets were produced at

Stratasys on Wednesday April 22nd, 2015.


Extruded EspressoPLA - Filament

The compounded EspressoPLA pellets were loaded into a material hopper of a single screw

extruder and then extruded into a solid monofilament. The filament is cooled and added to a spool by

means of a mandrel winder. The spooled filament is then packaged in a static shielding moisture

barrier bag. The general specifications of the EspressoPLA filament is manufactured meet the

minimum requirements to be used in a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer.

Unfortunately, a finished product of EspressoPLA filament was never achieved. The espresso

additive caused negative processing properties which would not allow the extruder to push the plastic

in a uniform shape. Eight different processes or temperature profiles were attempted. All attempts

ended with a tar like pile on the floor. This indicates that the compounded pellets lacked lubrication.

More attempts will be made in the future once the compounded pellets are analyzed and the additive

and compounding processes altered based on the material testing being completed by Stratasys.

Overall much was learned as to the effects of coffee grounds in a PLA material.