3D printing is cool. Look around your house and ask yourself what products you use every day that you could print. Need a new glass? Done. Want an action figure or a gaming miniature? No problem. Need a specific sex toy but you’re too embarrassed to go to the store and you don’t want to wait for shipping? You can do that too.
It all sounds pretty awesome but is it environmentally friendly? There is no denying that the carbon footprint of a 3D printed object is ridiculously low because it has not been mass produced and it has not been shipped. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, uses a lot less material and therefore creates a lot less wasted byproduct. But here is our concern: the plastic material 3D printed objects are made of.
What if you could take junk plastic sitting around your house right now and turn it into stock for your 3D printer?
Filabot made it possible.
Filabot is a device that eats scrap plastic and turns it into filament you can use in your 3D printer! It uses HDPE, LDPE, ABS, and PLA plastics and the resulting product can be 3D printed into something new. Those who have been reading our blog and are 3D printing aficionados already know that ABS and PLA are the two common plastics used by 3D printers. So you can recycle your old or failed prints to make new ones. Did you know that HDPE is high-density polyurethane and it’s what milk jugs are made of? That’s right, you can recycle your milk jugs and 3D print with them!
AK Inovex developed a recycling technology that uses no water.
Plastic is one of the most common materials that is sent to the recycle bin. However, the process of turning plastic bottles into pellets that can be reused for making 3D printing filaments takes a lot of water and energy, according to this recent piece in Phys.org.
A mexican company called AK Inovex has developed a number of recycling technologies that turn plastic into recycled pellets but uses no water and half the energy of conventional methods. The process uses a machine that molds the plastic into pellets after washing it with lye without the use of water.
Besides the savings in water and energy, the process takes less physical space and creates better quality plastic pellets. That means that the recycling operation can become more profitable. AK Inovex means to refine the process further by using biodegradale chemicals, making the process even greener than before.
The use of plastics as a material for containers has been a boon because of their low cost and a problem because of their inability to biodegrade, hence clogging landfills and the world’s oceans. Homeowners and businesses have been encouraged to recycle plastics. However the cost of the recycling process has proven to be a barrier. AK Inovex has made an advance by lowering the cost of recycling plastic while lowering the process’environmental impact. This in turn will provide a much needed resource for the growing 3D printing industry.
3D printing today is where computers were in the 1970s. They are impressive and they are going to be getting better quickly with all of the research and innovation going into the machines.