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Sustainable 3D printing – Recycled filament helps lower running costs

Dutch start-up Refil is recycling car parts for more sustainable 3D printing. The company is selling recycled plastic in filament form for existing 3D printers.

The company is selling recycled plastic in filament form for existing 3D printers.
The company
is selling recycled plastic in filament form
for existing 3D printers.

The first batch of ‘refilaments’ were made from car dashboards and PET bottles. The spools containing black filament are recycled from car interiors while the translucent ones are up to 90% recycled from plastic containers.

To create the high quality product, scraps are shredded into tiny pieces and contaminants physically removed. They are then melted and turned into 1.75 or 2.85mm diameter strings that are wound around recycled carbon spools.

The company says that their products share the same level of quality as premium filaments. Refil Lead Product Researcher Laura Klaus said: “We don’t add any toxic dyes to our products and this has been our biggest challenge. After lots of research, we can finally develop refilaments that have the exact same quality as ordinary filaments, without adding any toxins.”

Casper van der Meer, Co-founder of Refil, said: “Using our refilament, instead of ordinary filament, you instantly make everything you print recycled. From vases, toys and jewellery to architectural models, prosthetics and other products. They all become recycled products when you print them with refilament.”

Refilament won the Best Material Development Awardat the 3D Printing Europe trade fair in Berlin. A spool of 750 grams for dashboard black is priced at €32 and the PET translucent at €40.

Use of recycled filament is one of the main selling points of the EKOCYCLE Cube 3D printer available from the EKOCYCLE shop-within-a-shop in Harrods, London. A joint venture between musician and the Coca-Cola Company, EKOCYCLE is a collection of prestige consumer products made from recycled materials. Each EKOCYCLE-branded cartridge contains filament made from three recycled 20oz PET plastic bottles.

Closer to home, D3D Innovations Ltd has developed a desktop extruder that lets 3D print enthusiasts create their own filament out of pellets, waste plastic and old 3D prints. The FilaFab system extrudes ABS, PLA, EVA, HDPE, nylon and more, automatically replenishing used spools. As well as offering the convenience of an in-house supply of filament and the opportunity to experiment with colours and compounds, FilaFab can cut consumables costs by more than 80%.

Two models of FilaFab Extruder are available: the compact EX100 for extruding ABS and PLA; and the EX350, which thanks to its greater power and speed control, can also handle other types of polymer.

An environmentally friendly alternative to polymer 3D prints is offered by Mcor Technologies, which markets a range of desktop 3D printers that use ordinary, new or used cut-sheet paper as their raw material, resulting, it is claimed, in the lowest operating costs of any 3D printer on the market. Another benefit of Mcor’s paper 3D printers is that that they offer true full colour output.

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