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Recycling Plastic for Use as Filament in 3D Printers

By Staff Writter

Recycling Plastic for Use as Filament in 3D Printers

Science and Math

When you think of recycling, most people don't automatically equate it with 3D printing opportunities in helping careers as well as helping the environment. Now, though, 3D printing is taking a new approach in using recycling methods to help turn it into a green technology. We've already seen a printer that can self-replicate itself (the RepRap Project) to help the environment. The recycling process now goes even further and taken directly from the earth, particularly recycled plastic from the ocean.

Recently, an organization called The Plastic Bank figured out a way to take plastic found directly in the ocean and recycle it so it creates the plastic filament used in 3D printers. With plastic being one of the most important elements in creating items on 3D printers, it can become expensive to replace. In a poor country with access to a 3D printer, it might be impossible for them to afford to replace the plastic filament, hence making printer production come to a tragic stop.

In places like Sudan, for instance, poor countries are starting to finally gain access to 3D printers to improve their lives. This means printing out prosthetic limbs and other important tools that are impossible to gain access to ordinarily. By taking plastic found in our oceans, the plastic can be continually recycled for perpetual use, hence preventing 3D printers from becoming a major expense to keep updated.

Yes, once 3D printers use this recycling process, they won't be like regular inkjet printers that continually force us into buying overpriced black and color cartridges that don't hold up. While laser printers have helped in that regard, 3D printers will likely have much more use in future years, especially in the home. We'll be making things so often that recycling the plastic is going to be mandatory in order to save money.

At the same time, it's also helping the environment and the world's poor with this initiative. It's one segment of 3D printing still developing and could help poor countries in a more significant way than we even know. Many of those poor countries may continue to be in abject poverty, yet having access to recycling 3D printers will be enough to give them access to things that can at least give them a bit of quality to their lives.