Technology firm Algix LLC began commercial production of algae-based plastic filament for 3-D printing earlier this year — and the firm plans to increase capacity for the product before 2015 is over.
Meridian, Miss.-based Algix launched commercial-scale quantities of algae-based compounds through its Solaplas unit in late 2014, and then this year added the filament product, marketing and communications leader Barbara Zeller said in a June 17 phone interview.
Algix's partner in the project — Meridian-based 3-D Fuel LLC — “wanted more sustainable, high-performing plastics,” she explained. Algix formulated a compound of algae with PLA bioplastic to meet that need.
In addition to the filament product, Algix is making algae-based compounds for the foam and film markets. The foam product also is based on EVA.
The firm currently operates one twin-screw extruder that has the capacity to make several million pounds of material annually, Zeller said. Algix now employs 30, but could add 10-20 to that total by the end of the year.
In addition to its headquarters, lab and production space in Meridian, Algix operates an algae processing site in nearby Daphne, Ala., where it processes algae gathered by mobile units from local catfish farming ponds. The firm's products also have been used by Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc., a thermoformer based in Woodstock, Ill.
Algix was founded in 2010 by Ryan Hunt and Michael Van Drunen. Hunt worked on the Algix technology while a graduate student at the University of Georgia.
“Plastics is our main focus, and it has been from the beginning,” Zeller said.