Kickstart: How about some fries with that 3D printer?

The University of Toronto Scarborough is turning used McDonald’s cooking oil into a high-resolution, biodegradable resin for 3D printing.

A UTSC professor, Andre Simpson, said he had thought about the potential of converting cooking oil to resin since he got a 3D printer in his lab three years ago. The molecules used in commercial resins are similar to fats in cooking oil, he reasoned, according to a release from the university.

His team contacted major fast-food chains and the only one to respond was — surprisingly — not Tim Hortons, but McDonald’s. Simpson picked up used oil from a restaurant in Scarborough and found they were able to convert about 1 liter of oil into 420 milliliters of resin, which was then used to print a plastic butterfly.

“We found that McDonald’s waste cooking oil has excellent potential as a 3D printing resin,” Simpson said.

The group’s work has been published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.