Plastic waste continues to find its way into landfills and waterbodies, posing a significant ecological challenge that may send Planet Earth to its knees. In a year alone, thousands of marine creatures succumb to plastic entanglement while millions stand the risk of plastic ingestion.
This is why conscientious 3D printing enthusiasts are resorting to green 3D printing, which involves reducing, reusing, and recycling excess plastic from failed prints. Digital sculptors need to understand how to make good use of their PLA and ABS if they want to control this mayhem-causing material that allegedly takes somewhere from 10 to 1000 years to decompose.
This leads us to one important question: How can one be an ecologically friendly maker?
Turn your 3D printed waste into new spools using a 3D printer filament recycler. The typical recycler will smash failed prints into smaller pieces, melt them down, and force the liquid plastic through an opening. The hot plastic is then cooled down and coiled onto a reel.
Some tips when using a 3D printer filament recycler:
Not all machines are able to both shred and extrude. This means that, depending on your needs, you may have to buy two machines.
You can make a DIY shredder or purchase a ready-made shredder like the SHR3D IT. The Filabot Reclaimer is another great option — compatible with HIPS, PLA, and ABS — even though it is currently out of stock.
It’s important to note that shredding plastic can be a bit tasky for the average DIYer. This is primarily because grinding plastic puts a strain on the ordinary motors found in commercial appliances. A simple solution is to get an industrial shredder with a powerful motor, but in this case, be ready to spend more.
There are several extruders in the market, ranging from DIY extruders to plug-and-play machines.
Here are a few examples of extruders you can buy:
1.1. Shred and Extrude: The ProtoCycler
The ProtoCycler is the quintessential 3D printer filament recycler because it can perform both shredding and extrusion. It represents a great way to reuse your scrap filament from failed prints or from small bits of filament that would typically go unused.
This 3D printer filament recycler is the work of former classmates David Joyce and Alex Kay, who were fed up with purchasing expensive filament. They joined forces and built a machine that could recycle their material for them.
The result was the ProtoCycle, which grinds plastic into digestible pieces, melts the plastic down, extrudes it, and coils it onto a spool. This device is computer-controlled to ensure consistency.
Using this type of machine at home is more demanding compared to using a regular 3D printer. Nevertheless, it’s accessible to any dedicated DIYer who cares about plastic waste.
As the war against plastic waste gains momentum, more initiatives are coming up to encourage people to recycle and reuse plastic. One such initiative is Precious Plastic, a Dutch project dedicated to helping people establish plastic recycling workshops.
Precious Plastic has established recycling machines with the capability of injecting and extruding plastic. With these machines, it’s possible to make filament from recycled plastics, and Precious Plastic has made the blueprints open source.
In addition, the project is continuously building recycling communities, holding clean-ups, and always spreading information about the overwhelming plastic pollution problem in a bid to empower populations about better plastic use.
Get the 3D printer filament recyclers from Precious Plastic and create your filament factory. The appliances include an extruder, compressor, shredder, and an injection molder. The extrusion machine will help you create filament whenever you need one, and you also get to recycle your old or worn out prints.
Recycled filaments are commercially available, and purchasing them means you’ll be reducing your environmental footprint while increasing sustainability. Refil, Filamentive, and Tridea are examples of sellers who stock recycled filaments. 3DBrooklyn has a filament made from potato chip bags while 3Dom Filaments has a beer filament made from the byproducts of the beer-making process.
ABS and PLA are two commonly used 3D printing filaments, but they cannot be easily recycled. Therefore, you may need to use the services of a 3D printer filament recycler. One example is RePLAy3D.
RePLAy3D is a filament manufacturer and distributor, like plenty of others, but the company also encourages users to recycle filaments under a special program called Closed-Loop Recycling.
The program works by collecting filament scraps from different users and recycling the scrap into new filament. RePLAy3D even has reward programs for committed hobbyists who collect their scraps regularly.
License: The text of "The 3D Printer Filament Recycler’s Guide" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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