Andrew Bader is a young entrepreneur and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate trying to make a splash in the manufacturing industry.
Focused on utilizing 3D-printing processes that offer a vast amount of versatility in product design, Bader started CorFiber in 2016 with a mission to support a manufacturing market that is more sustainable in energy and materials.
“Up until 3D printing, it has been difficult for the average person to mass produce an object of their design,” Bader said. “But with 3D printing, it speeds up the process and reduces the cost so much, it’s not even comparable.”
The versatility was not the only reason Bader began producing products with 3D printers. The most widely used plastic in 3D printing is polylactic acid plastic, or PLA, derived from plants and is biodegradable. But Bader has added another ingredient to further increase the sustainability of his input materials, and to make a stronger, more durable plastic: Hemp fiber.
“Hemp adds a natural, unique color, but on top of that, if mixed in the right ratios, hemp can increase tensile, impact and flexural strengths of the plastic, making it better,” he said.
Cost was also a factor.
“Hemp is still being introduced to the market and is cheap from not being heavily demanded yet,” Bader said. “Add this to a more expensive plastic and you can significantly reduce your production costs.”
Bader’s main product with 3D printing has been producing sunglasses with his Hemp-PLA mixture. Dubbed HempVision, Bader’s line of sunglasses feature 100 percent biodegradable frames that he brings together with hinges and finishes by inserting the lenses. He sells them through his website, 3dprintinghemp.com.
Bioplastics and 3D printing are two technologies that have become more widely available to entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in product manufacturing. Bader has big plans for CorFiber.
“It allows the average person to make something useful, if they can market it and package it in a way that is desirable for consumers,” Bader said. “I’ve been talking about this for years, but big ideas like this take time and money to accomplish.”