AMGTA Member Spotlight: Salvador Ortega and Mariagiovanna Vetere of NatureWorks

April 29, 2024

Salvador Ortega, NatureWorks

Salvador Ortega is a seasoned Global Marketing Manager for NatureWorks – a world-leading company that invents and manufactures high performing biopolymers and applications called Ingeo™️. In his current role, Salvador is responsible for developing business strategy and engaging with customers in various segments including 3D Printing. With over nineteen years of experience at NatureWorks, he has held multiple positions, including Value Analyst Manager and Business Development Manager for Latin America.

Salvador’s educational background includes a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, as well as an MBA from the prestigious ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México). Prior to joining NatureWorks, Salvador had a successful international 15-year career in sales, market research, and marketing at The Dow Chemical Company.

Salvador has also been an active participant in Mexico’s Plastic Industry Association (ANIPAC), serving as the president of the bioplastics section and as a member of the board.

Mariagiovanna Vetere, NatureWorks

As Vice President Sustainability and Public Affairs for NatureWorks – a world-leading company that invents and manufactures high performing biopolymers and applications called Ingeo™️ – Mariagiovanna represents the company in public and legislative affairs and oversees the sustainability activities. Her responsibilities include Government relations, product Circular Economy options, feedstock and biomass sustainability aspects, bioeconomy and interface with relevant industry associations and external stakeholders. Mariagiovanna manages an extensive network and relationships with Industry associations, Brand Owners associations and NGOs; she has practical experience in how the legislative process is implemented both in EU and USA.

Mariagiovanna brings a strong background well suited to this space, having spent 10 years at Corepla, the Italian PRO for Plastics Packaging Collection, Recycling and Recovery, where she gained competence in EPR – Extended Producer Responsibility. Her previous experience is with consulting company KPMG where she was focused on Business Process Reengineering. Mariagiovanna holds master’s degrees in philosophy and in economics.

About NatureWorks

NatureWorks is an advanced materials company offering a broad portfolio of renewably sourced polymers and chemicals. With performance and economics that compete with oil-based materials, naturally advanced Ingeo™ biomaterials are valued for their unique functional properties and used in products from coffee pods and appliances to tea bags and 3D printing filament. NatureWorks is jointly owned by Thailand’s largest ASEAN leading integrated petrochemical and refining company, PTT Global Chemical, and Cargill, which provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Learn more at and follow NatureWorks on X and LinkedIn.

NatureWorks’ name suggests an emphasis on the environment. How important is the impact on the environment to your organization and development of your products?

Mariagiovanna: We believe that the environmental performance of our resins is very relevant and according to our peer reviewed eco profile, manufacturing Ingeo produces approximately 80% less greenhouse gases and uses approximately 52% less non-renewable energy (NREU) than traditional polymers like polystyrene.

We’re also committed to feedstock diversification—we use the most abundant, locally available, and sustainable source of biobased carbon wherever we produce. Equally, we’re committed to critically assessing and assuring the sustainability of each and every feedstock we use. As we expand our manufacturing into new regions, we will be assessing the most important certification methods for those geographies and those agricultural feedstocks as well.

Desktop printers have been available for many years. Are you seeing an increase in the demand for desktop 3D printers? If so, what is driving this increase?

Salvador: For many years we’ve witnessed consistent growth in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) desktop printers under $2,500. But we’ve noticed the growth has accelerated at a much higher rate in the last year. I think this uptick is driven by multiple factors including increased global adoption due to improved printer performance, lower cost printers, a significant change in printing speeds, and an increase in filament production capacity, which also reduces cost.

Desktop 3D printers have had significant improvements in the last few years. They are faster, easier to print with, more reliable, and less expensive. At this point, they can better compete with some more traditional processing systems such as injection molding.

How is NatureWorks addressing this additional demand?

Salvador: With the increase in desktop 3D printers, we are seeing a greater demand for Ingeo PLA filament. I think the success in printing with PLA can be attributed to the ease of printing, which makes it accessible to a wide range of users. PLA is considered the most cost-efficient option among 3D printing filaments, offering a favorable price-performance ratio. Also, PLA filaments are available in a broad array of options like different colors, textures, blends, and suppliers, which enhances its appeal to users seeking versatility.
Currently, we’re assessing new Ingeo grades for added performance and increasing Ingeo biopolymer capacity through our new NatureWorks manufacturing facility, which will open in 2025 and contribute an additional 70,000 tons per year. This plant will better support our customers in Asia with improved logistics, shorter lead times, and tariff-free materials.

How is NatureWorks Ingeo line of materials providing manufacturers with a more sustainable option?

Salvador: Sustainability is important in this industry and we’re seeing increased interest at 3D trade shows and in talking with our customers. Ingeo PLA aligns well with the growing demand for environmentally friendly solutions because it’s made from greenhouse gases and has a lower environmental footprint than incumbents like ABS or nylon. I think there are instances where sustainability requires cross-industry collaboration too – one good example is high-speed printing where the hardware, software, and materials must converge to reduce printing times and reduce waste, which has a more positive impact on the environment.
Our large-format 3D printing grade was recently used in a partnership between NatureWorks, The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC), and Oak Ridge Labs for the production of BioHome3D, the world’s first 100% biobased 3D printed home. It’s a 600-square-foot structure that features 3D printed floor, walls, and roof. The material is a composite made with amorphous Ingeo PLA and sustainably grown wood fiber. Construction waste was nearly eliminated due to the precision of the printing process. We produced a video explaining the partnership and materials for BioHome3D.

We try to be versatile – our Ingeo grades in the 3D printing industry align with where the industry’s environmental needs are. Not only did we release the large-format printing grade, Ingeo 3D700, but we have also recently partnered with Jabil to deliver an Ingeo-based powder called Jabil PLA 3110P for selective laser sintering 3D printing platforms. The renewably sourced biomaterials and lower sintering temperature result in a more sustainable substrate for powder bed fusion technologies, requiring less energy use and a carbon footprint 89% smaller than PA-12.

Is there a compromise on quality or performance to obtain these environmental benefits?

Salvador: There is no compromise between quality and performance when you use Ingeo PLA. Additive manufacturing, and particularly FFF, is a unique application space where some of the inherent properties of PLA bring key advantages in processing and environmental benefits. For example, the inherent low processing temperature of PLA allows for minimal warpage of the parts, which reduces waste. Another example is its low emissions and low odor, which fit well with the desktop printing environment. But like any material, there can be compromises and it’s important for the user to understand the key performance and quality attributes in a material and the requirements for their print so the best material can be selected.

Is there a concern of potential negative impacts on food production as corn, sugar cane and other materials are moved into polymer production?

Salvador: Ingeo PLA is grown from plants that supply both feed and industrial end-uses simultaneously, so we say, “it’s not food OR biopolymers, it’s food AND biopolymers.” We transform atmospheric carbon into Ingeo by utilizing the starch by-product of purpose grown industrial corn. We only use the starch from corn for Ingeo, while the plant-based proteins are directed to the animal feed industry. At capacity, our Blair, NE manufacturing facility uses the starch from less than 0.03% of the annual global corn crop.

Why is this work toward more sustainable solutions important to you personally?

Salvador: Seeing the success of a sustainable solution in 3D printing is very meaningful to me. I started with NatureWorks back in 2004 when 3D printing, as we know it, hardly existed. It’s been a joy ride through the years watching a biomaterial with strong environmental benefits demonstrate such potential as an alternative to a nascent application. I remember, back in the early 2010s, when we saw some initial work being done with Ingeo PLA in FDM – it was thrilling! And I don’t think anyone could have imagined what PLA would mean to 3D printing a decade later.

Mariagiovanna: To me, sustainability is linked with protecting our future. We need biobased materials to reduce our dependence from fossil-based fuels and effectively contribute to fight climate change.

How important is cross-industry collaboration to achieve those advances? How can working with the AMGTA help drive and facilitate those efforts?

Salvador: Advancing additive manufacturing requires a unified effort across various industries, as it involves integrating materials, applications, and processing technologies to forge new industrial solutions. No single element can achieve this in isolation. The beauty of AMGTA as an organization is that it brings together many different groups of participants in the supply chain and promotes communication and interaction with a focus on sustainability.

The claims and views expressed in this Member Spotlight Interview are not necessarily those of the AMGTA, its staff, its Board of Directors, or member organizations. The AMGTA is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any information or claims provided as part of this Member Spotlight Interview and shall not be responsible for any decisions made based on such information.