If you’re an ecologically conscious type then a desktop 3D printer might seem a step too far in carbon footprint terms. In the main, the filament being used for 3D printers at home is ABS, ABS is a non-biodegradable material that can only be properly disposed by dissolving in acetone. PLA, another filament used with desktop 3D printers is biodegradable however due to its lower melting points the parts are not as durable and often more difficult to print with.
At the backend of last year we saw the arrival of Filabot on Kickstarter, a personal recycling plant turning your old bottles into filament for your 3D printer. Now Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technology University (MTU) is aiming to reduce your 3D printing carbon footprint even further with RecycleBot, an open source recycling plant.
Releasing the RecycleBot CAD files for free on thingiverse so as makers can create their own at home might be preferable to spending in excess of $400 on an as yet unavailable FilaBot. Using used milk jugs, with the label cut off and plastic washed, Joshua Perace’s group of students have successfully created and reprinted filament using 1/10th the energy needed to acquire commercial 3D filament.
Joshua Pearce told MTU news “Three billion people live in rural areas that have lots of plastic junk, they could use it to make useful consumer goods for themselves. Or imagine people living by a landfill in Brazil, recycling plastic and making useful products or even just ‘fair trade filament’ to sell. Twenty milk jugs gets you about 1 kilogram of plastic filament, which currently costs $30 to $50 online.”
He’s not stopping there either in his quest for ultimate carbon neutral 3D printing, his group are currently working on a solar powered printer that be produce more solar panels out of recyclable material. Ladies and Gentlemen we present to you king of the polar bears Joshua Pearce!