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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Department of Biological Sciences


Vacuum drying can dehydrate materials further than dry heat methods, while protecting sensitive materials from thermal degradation. Many industries have shifted to vacuum drying as cost-or time-saving measures. Small-scale vacuum drying, however, has been limited by the high costs of specialty scientific tools. To make vacuum drying more accessible, this study provides design and performance information for a small-scale open source vacuum oven, which can be fabricated from off-the-shelf and 3-D printed components. The oven is tested for drying speed and effectiveness on both waste plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and a consortium of bacteria developed for bioprocessing of terephthalate wastes to assist in distributed recycling of PET for both additive manufacturing as well as potential food. Both materials can be damaged when exposed to high temperatures, making vacuum drying a desirable solution. The results showed that the open source vacuum oven was effective at drying both plastic and biomaterials, drying at a higher rate than a hot-air dryer for small samples or for low volumes of water. The system can be constructed for less than 20% of commercial vacuum dryer costs for several laboratory-scale applications, including dehydration of bio-organisms, drying plastic for distributed recycling and additive manufacturing, and chemical processing.

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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/). Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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