laser cutting bioplastics

This video is awesome. You can make your own bioplastic. Starch, glycerine, vinegar and water. 7 parts water, 1 vinegar, .5 glycerine and 1.5 parts starch. You heat the mixture up while stirring. You can then flatten it and it will turn into a sheet of bioplastic. You can even add your own colors to it. The sheet can then be laser cut. You can make plastic and then laser cut it. Wow? I’ve been watching this video for 20 minutes now over and over again. Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend? More than a little fascinated. Thank you Lasern!


  1. Mendel

    yeah, this was a lot of fun to do. Today and yesterday was like an improvised fablab. maybe a mobile fablab!? @jaycousins , chris & @m3nd3l

  2. jeff bare

    very cool- thanks for sharing. I wonder how fast this stuff would biodegrade in compost.

    also, can you cut it to letter size and send it thru your ink-jet printer? that would be cool.

  3. Erica Schwartz

    wow i really want to try this, though i have no laser cutter, i’ll have to cut by hand. what kind of starch? what kind of vinegar? Can i use corn starch and white vinegar from the supermarket?

    1. Jay Cousins

      @jeff bare don’t know if you could run it through the printer but you could try. @erica normal vinegar and corn starch are fine, we used a variation on this recipe – starch is starch.

      We’ll publish more info on processes next week, have been experimenting with accelerating process with microwave, which is an exciting development – at least for us.

    2. Joris

      Please keep us updated. I think this could be huge!

  4. Sandeepa

    This looks really interesting. Can this be used to make moulds ?

    1. Jay Cousins

      At present we can only make flat forms, although it is possible to give surface textures. Our goal is to be able to make moulds, 3 dimensional structures, make waterproof material, and essentially have a database of material that can be used to construct anything using materials you can buy over the counter and use with tools you have in your kitchen.

      Will be recording how to today.

  5. Brian Degger

    Yah, this is great Jay, another experiment for me to do, after the glowing squid bacteria protocol! (or during)

    1. Joris Peels

      I tried over the weekend. Was not successful. I tried a whole bunch of different recipes and proportions but ended up with varying degrees of material with a consistency not unlike that of hair gel. I will try again tonight . Would love to see the tutorial!

    1. Brian Degger

      Cheers for that! One of the two amazing things before breakfast…..the other one was Tm.10s Bruce Stirlings talk on Futurity Now. Synopsis “Pretend like its the future, and it will be!”

    2. Jay Cousins

      Glad to be of service, we should catch up soon – I want to hear about this luminescence project.

    1. Joris


      Looks great. Mine all look milky white, how did you get it so transparent?

      My molds are hardening by the way but I have shrinkage in a lot of the parts. Some parts are 30-50% smaller than initially.

    2. Mendel Heit

      NIce result Matt!
      It does shrink a lot, depending on your mix and the drying speed & shape. We played around with the vinegar and glycerine to see how it reacted as a plasticizer. Taking out the water out of it in the microwave took the water out really quickly, but make it also very brittle. There is a balance to find somewhere.. 🙂

  6. Shapeways Blog

    Inspired by Mendel Heit, Martin Bauer and Jay Cousins we’ve been doing a lot of playing around with bioplastics. Here you can see the original post with a video that shows you how they made bioplastic. Additionally this video is quite helpful. So why ha

  7. louz

    I was wondering how you made the plastic that flat, mine stays bubbly. 🙂

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