Science that matters: Master’s student develops novel material for sustainable 3D printing from recycled paper
The global demand for the additive manufacturing industry is expected to increase at a rate of 22% annually and is still largely reliant on the use of non-renewable resources. Ryan Nodder’s research goal is to create an alternative to current petroleum-based 3D printing materials.
A current Master of Science in Pharmacy student, Nodder is following through by using recycled paper waste to create a fully sustainable and non-toxic compound material. Coined CelluSoy, the potential medical use of this material is biodegradable implants that wouldn’t need removal surgeries and biodegradable drug delivery systems for sustained release. To date, Nodder has filed a provisional patent, successfully created solid objects through syringe-based 3D printing , and founded a startup. Currently, the CelluSoy team is still in the process of the technological assessment of the material’s core properties but is aiming for a soft launch in 2024.
When were you drawn to study in the Master of Science (MSc) in Pharmacy program at Waterloo?
It was during my undergraduate studies in Biomedical Sciences at Waterloo as I completed my Honours Thesis research project on the modulation of medications domperidone and riluzole for Alzheimer’s disease with Dr. Nekkar Rao. Upon applying for the MSc program, I learned of Dr. Emmanuel Ho’s research on biomaterials and novel drug delivery strategies and was intrigued with the possibility of developing new 3D printing biomaterials with therapeutic applications.
How was your startup CelluSoy founded? What problem does it solve?
CelluSoy is based on my biomaterial and is an expansion of my research project with hopes to commercialize a print media for syringe-based 3D printing. Despite the use of 3D printing in multiple industries such as medical and food, there is a distinct lack of commercially available print medias for syringe-based printers. This presents an opportunity for CelluSoy’s use among researchers and hobbyists for 3D design.
What is the working relationship like with your supervisor Dr. Emmanuel Ho?
As a supervisor, Dr. Ho provides me with constant feedback and direction on my research through weekly meetings while still providing me the freedom to plan the future of my project. Perhaps the most unique facet to my working relationship with Dr. Ho is his innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit, which I have personally benefited from. He has been pivotal in his support and vision for CelluSoy and its potential future applications and has provided me with a wealth of guidance.
How has the culture at Waterloo and the entrepreneurial ecosystem helped you start your company?
It was integral in helping me evaluate my research project’s potential for commercialization. The Waterloo Commercialization Office was a great help in providing the protection of intellectual property (such as patents, trademarks) and through continued support in the potential applications of CelluSoy. There are also many entrepreneurship initiatives offered on campus, like Velocity’s Cornerstone program and Velocity Science, that help students evaluate the commercial potential of their ideas.
What's next for you?
As I work through my research project, I plan to continue with the characterization of CelluSoy’s core properties as well as continue developing the early-stage commercialization of my project.
With the development of any new material, there are hundreds of characterizations that can be conducted to characterize and quantify its properties, which in turn provides insights into new and potentially novel end user applications. The application of CelluSoy in bioengineering is an exciting future step to my biomaterial, and I look forward to continuing to expand upon its real-world applications.