This series will explore the potential of recycling household plastic waste into homemade 3D printing filament. I will look specifically into the potential for cost savings and waste reduction.
Let’s start with a quick introduction. I’m Bram, the guy playing around with the filabot at 3D Hubs HQ. I’ve been doing quite some experimenting already and now I will be summarizing my findings in a series of 5 topics covering the basics of recycling for 3D printing. For any questions relating to the filabot, the shreddder or any other topic that I’m covering please feel free to nudge me by leaving a comment or just send me an email at email@example.com
This first part will contain 3 posts that focus on the why, how and what of making your own filament from recycled material.
- Post: 1: Why make recycled filament
- Post: 2: How does the 3D printing recycling process work
- Post: 3: What machines are available
So then lets get to it and start of with the first post:
Why make recycled filament?
There are generally two main reasons to make your own filament:
- Cost reduction of 3D printing
- Waste reduction
At this moment the largest cost of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing is the cost of filament, with average cost somewhere between €30-€60 per kg. When producing your own filament you can reduce this cost with a whopping 80-95%. This is if you use pellets of new material such as the PLA pellets from Colorfabb:
In fact if you use only recycled material from old prints your filament will be practically free. Most probably though you will get better results if you mix the old prints with new pellets to produce new filament. This only slightly increases the costs of your filament but can potentially increase the quality quite a bit. If filament uses 80% new material and 20% recycled old prints that doesn’t seem like much but on a global scale a 20% reduction of the environmental impact is huge! In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series I will look into the best ratios for producing high quality filament.
Not only can you reduce the cost of 3D printing that you incur, you can limit the cost of 3D printing on our environment as well. The plastics most used in 3D printing are ABS and PLA. ABS is made from oil and its production process isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
PLA is a bio degradable plastic that can be made from crops such as starch or sugarcane. However this plastic unfortunately raises a whole bunch of questions on its friendliness to our environment.
3D printing is often praised as a clean alternative to mass production due to its promise of local manufacturing. Imagine a world without transportation of products. How different is the fact that 3D printing nowadays contributes to most problems that plastics cause with every new print that is made. Thanks to the development of a process for recycling for 3D printing this paradox no longer needs to exist. Re-using your old prints or even turning your old milk jars into new prints is the way to go and now more feasible than ever.