Mar 12, 2018

Gigabot X can 3D Print with Recycled Plastic Pellets

Now live on Kickstarter is the Gigabot X, a large-scale, direct pellet extrusion 3D printer for fabricating with recycled plastic.

Houston, Texas might seem likely an unlikely location for a revolution in 3D printing, but this is where re:3d have announced the Gigabot X, an open source 3D printer that fabricates with pelletized plastic. The unit is specifically designed to accept recycled pellets, a cleaner and greener approach for fused deposition modeling.

The official launch of the Kickstarter campaign for the Gigabot X took place at the SXSW Festival, with a campaign seeking $50,000 in funding. Pledges of $9,500 or more will secure backers an exclusive Gigabot X Beta 3D printer, plus 5 lbs of pellets to get started.

The first-generation Gigabot is an affordable large format 3D printer which was also a crowdfunding success story in 2013. But in launching the Gigabot X, the gang at re:3D reckon they’re fast approaching the realization of a goal 5 years in the making; a 3D printer that can print using plastic trash.

How so? The answer appears to lie in direct pellet extrusion. Melting small chunks of plastic instead of extruded filament for the input material makes 3D printing directly from recyclables an easier process.

Gigabot X creates a Virtuous Cycle for 3D Printing

There are other benefits that come from printing with pellets. It eliminates the need for extruded plastic filament, for example, which tends to be about 10x more expensive than pelletized plastic.

re:3D also say that direct pellet extrusion dramatically cuts back on printing times; in current tests, they’ve increased print times up to 17x than a filament-fed Gigabot.

There are other pellet printers already on the market, but they’re typically used in larger, more expensive manufacturing systems. According to the Kickstarter page:

“Our goal, much like with the first-generation Gigabot, is to increase 3D printer accessibility and bridge the gap between cost and scale by creating an affordable, large-scale pellet printer.”

In addition to raising funds, the campaign has another important objective; to recruit a number of beta testers who will fine-tune the Gigabot X. With their feedback, they’ll be collaborating with re:3D in an ongoing process of iteration and improvement.

And there will be some work ahead, to be sure. In addition to the direct pellet extruder, a small ecosystem of accessories are required for the Gigabot X. This includes a low-cost dryer, grinder, and feeder system.

It’s an ambitions plan, but if successful it could blaze the trail for 3D printing directly from ground-up plastic. Interested? Visit the official Gigabot X Kickstarter campaign page to learn more.

License: The text of "Gigabot X can 3D Print with Recycled Plastic Pellets" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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