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Manufacturing and characterizing hemp biopolymer composites

Throughout history, the hemp plant has been recognized as a sustainable, renewable source of material with a host of industrial and consumer applications. Currently, hemp is underutilized as a raw material in the US due to nearly a century of laws and policies prohibiting, or severely limiting, its industrial use. Since these laws and policies have changed, the use of hemp as an industrial raw material will continue to increase in the US due to an interest in sustainable, high-value consumer and industrial products made from renewable resources.

3D printing has become a mainstream way to rapidly prototype design concepts. Injection molding of polymers and polymer-based composite materials is one of the most common manufacturing processes to make industrial and consumer products. The development of new materials with improved mechanical and physical properties would expand the use of these processes into more high-performance, high-value applications. However, composites are often not environmentally sustainable and difficult to recycle.

Figure 8: Representative 2D images of hemp-PLA composites with a-b) skin-core separation and c-e) voids present in their cross-sections. The red line indicates the diameter of the fiber. Material composition of each picture are as follows: a) 20% Coexist Hemp Fiber, b) 10% PO
Shredded Hurd, c) 10% Kanabat Hemp Hurd, d) 30% PO Hurd & Fiber, and e) 20% Don Agro.

In this project, the researchers develop hemp-reinforced polymer filaments that are biodegradable, sustainable, and have superior mechanical and physical properties. The work involves processing locally grown hemp and incorporating it into polymers via lab-scale compounding and extrusion processes. Resultant composites will be used to manufacture 3D printing filament and injection molding pellets. Composites are evaluated for their mechanical and physical properties.

Read the complete research at

Fioravanti, Gabriella & Peckman, Bryce & Patania, Lexi & Gargano, Lucia & Riley, Maggie & Kander, Ron. (2021). Manufacturing and Characterizing Hemp Biopolymer Composites. 10.13140/RG.2.2.22145.38245.

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