According to the researchers, it is possible to produce, “an excellent thermal insulator”, quite easily by taking advantage of national cork and help promote the circular economy.
“Since cork is an insulating material, its use in the production of 3D polyurethane foams, a polymer used in the production of various plastic materials, has the advantage of helping in insulation, producing thermal insulation values identical to conventional foams”, says Nuno Gama, the researcher responsible for the project.
Created at the Instituto de Materiais de Aveiro (CICECO), one of the university’s research units, the material produced using 3D printing “opens the doors to production of foams with a tailor-made cellular structure “.
Another of the advantages of using cork, more specifically the leftovers from the production of stoppers, is that it increases the sustainability and flexibility of foams, “which can increase the range of applications of the material”.
“In this work, the focus was on thermal insulation, but the increased flexibility provided by cork can increase the range of applications of the material, such as the absorption of vibrations or sound energy”, Nuno Gama, whose project team also includes researchers from CICECO Artur Ferreira and Ana Barros-Timmons explained.