Recycled plastic filament for 3D printers is here

3D printer
CC BY 2.0 Gastev

We love 3D printing for how it can make manufacturing highly customizable and localized. The devices, plus design software, let us imagine something and then build it with a much lighter footprint than buying something that was mass produced far away.

The technology has already brought a lot of good into the world, from printed medical devices that save human lives to prosthetics for animals, but, unfortunately, the tech is not wholly green. The material that is used to make all of these things is plastic filament and a lot of it.

Researchers are trying to create printers that use other materials like metal or clay, but these ideas are nowhere near ready for the market. It's possible to get a filament extruder that lets you recycle plastic into new filament, but they're very expensive and don't produce the same quality of filament.

Start-up company Dimension Polymers is attempting to solve this dilemma by developing a recycled plastic filament for use in 3D printers.

© Dimension Polymers

According to the company, 3D printing currently uses 30 million pounds of plastic every year and it’s projected to reach 250 million pounds by 2020. Producing all of that petroleum based plastic is also increasing carbon emissions.

To keep that growth at bay, Dimension's product is made from at least 95% recycled ABS plastic. They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding to bring the product to market. The company wants to make the filament as competitively priced compared to regular filament as possible.

Dimension has also committed to recyclable packaging. Most filament spools today are made with non-recyclable plastics, so the company has also designed completely recyclable packaging for its filament that is itself made of recycled materials.

"We noticed that the industry currently uses a large plastic spool, which doesn't come from recycled plastic and is also not recyclable in your home or office recycling bin," said co-founder Mark Sherman to FastCoExist. "So it's not only the filament on the market that's causing a problem, it's also the packaging. We thought that our whole product, not just the filament should be eco-friendly."

Only six days are left to support the Kickstarter and just over $2,600 left to raise.

Tags: 3D printing | Gadgets | Recycling | Technology

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