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Q&A: Can I make bioplastic dry faster?

by Green Plastics

 

Thomas writes in to ask:

Is there any way in which I can accelerate the rate at which the bio-plastic dries?

Thomas, thank you for your question! It’s definitely a question that we’ve heard a lot.  If you’ve been working on the home-made bioplastic projects that we talk about on this site, or that are described in the Green Plastics book, and the plastic seems to take a very long time to dry (or seems to never dry), there are a few things that you can try.

First, the amount of time it will take to dry will depend on how thick it is.  If you are making a thin sheet of bioplastic, for a flexible wrapper or a sheet of “bioglass” for an envelope, it may dry in a day or two. On the other hand, if you are making a solid, three-dimensional plastic object, then even if you are doing everything right and you have the plastic in perfect drying conditions, it still may take as long as a week to dry completely. So to an extent, you may have to simply have some patience if your project involves a thicker piece of bioplastic.

Second, you may want to take a close look at the amount of plasticizer that you are using.  Many of the recipes on this website, for example, require using glycerine solution that is 1% glycerin (in other words: 1 part glycerin mixed with 99 parts water).  If you made your glycerin solution too strong (i.e. too concentrated), then your bioplastic may end up being overly flexible, or may even stay “gooey” without ever drying completely.  So it might be worth reviewing the recipe you are using, or even trying again with a lower amount of plasticizer (such as glycerin). This is especially worth looking at if your bioplastic project goes for more than a week without drying completely.

Finally, humidity and heat can also have an effect. Try to make sure you are keeping it in a dry place. With some projects, especially thinner films / sheets, I have had some success using a blow-dryer.  Use low heat, and simply blow-dry the plastic for a few minutes at a time, once every hour or so.  This can help the drying process.

None of these are “quick fixes”, but any of them can help if you are having trouble.

Best luck with your project!

 


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