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Recycling Failed and Waste 3D Prints into Filament: Challenges

In response to growing interest into the area of recycled filament and the regular enquiries we receive regarding failed/waste 3D print recycling, we thought we’d take the time to clarify our position – this article specifically will focus on the challenges preventing us offering such a service (currently). 

Do you accept 3D printing waste?

Can you recycle failed prints?

Will you recycle our PLA waste back into PLA filament?

The example quotes above are just an overview of the types of emails, calls and enquiries we receive on a daily basis. As a provider of 3D printing filament made from recycled plastic, we feel it is necessary to explain the current challenges of recycling failed & waste 3D prints into recycled 3D printer filament.


Environmental Need

Whilst at its core 3D printing is fundamentally less wasteful than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods, academic research has found that “material sustainability is an issue that can no longer be ignored due to wide adoption of 3D printing”. The use of plastic as a feedstock has the potential to exacerbate the global plastic epidemic unless we can find a sustainable solution.

How Filamentive Produces Filament

Sustainability is at the heart of our business model. Where possible, recycled materials will be used to produce our 3D printer filament – we are the first filament brand to declare the recycled content of all 3D printing filament products, in accordance with ISO 14021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Challenges

Quality control – High quality filament is essential for high quality 3D-prints. Should we ever begin to accept returned 3D printing waste, it is very difficult – perhaps impossible – to verify that the returned plastic is entirely Filamentive material. There is variation between PLA formulas – let alone different materials altogether – and so if the waste-stream is contaminated, the filament extruded will unusable. Furthermore, an academic study found that were significant deteriorations in most mechanical properties after three recycling cycles” – which basically means that even if waste could be successfully separated, the filament quality would be very low, and in order to maintain mechanical properties, virgin material needs to be added which may negate the environmental benefit. 

Logistics – Plastic has a high volume-to-weight ratio which can make collections less efficient than the collection of other recyclable materials that weigh more. This is a major reason why plastic waste recycling rates are low in general. In a nutshell, this basically means plastic is expensive to transport which is barrier for customers and suppliers alike. Also, as we do not yet manufacture in-house, any waste would then need to be sent to one of our production partners which will incur transport emissions and perhaps offset some – if not all – environmental benefits. 

Economics – As with any business strategy, the financials need to be viable. Should customers not be willing to send their waste back at their cost, we would need to add the cost of waste collection and recycling into our product price. Whilst this would make sense for customers for others it would be unfair if they are not taking advantage of a service they are in-directly paying for.

Market viability – even if all the the above challenges were addresses, there are still many market factors to consider, such as:

  • Would we need to create a new brand/sub-brand for this new filament?
  • What price are customers willing to pay for such a product?
  • If filament cannot be created whom can we sell/send waste to? 

Plastic bottles being collected by our partner, Tridea

 


Moving forward

Despite the challenges, recycling 3D printing waste has long been an aspiration of ours and we’re continuously researching the viability of a waste management service. Offering such a service one-day will truly help us move one step closer to achieving a circular economy and reduce – if not eliminate – plastic waste within 3D printing. Until such a solution is achieved, we will still continue to be the sustainable choice in 3D printing by committing to:

  • Using recycled material (post-consumer and post-industrial) where possible 
  • Avoid the use of new, virgin polymers to reduce energy and demand for raw materials. 
  • Utlise plant-based bioplastics when there is no recycled alternative
  • Forming strategic partnerships with recycling companies to use their waste streams to produce filament
  • Using 100% recyclable cardboard spools to further reduce waste and increase the recyclability of our products/packaging

Hopefully this has been an interesting and informative read – if you have any questions about recycled filament or indeed anything related to Filamentive, please email us.

Filamentive Release 100% Recycled 3D Printer Filament Made From PET Plastic Bottles

Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom – February 6th 2019 – UK 3D printing filament brand, Filamentive, is proud to announce the release of a 100% recycled plastic filament made from post-consumer PET plastic bottle waste, in partnership with Tridea.

With a focus on sustainability, Filamentive is committed to greatly reduce the environmental impact of plastic in 3D printing. With an existing product portfolio of recycled materials – declared in accordance with ISO 14021 – the release of ONE PET signifies a tangible effort to reduce post-consumer plastic waste. 

The release of ONE PET is the outcome of a partnership with like-minded Belgium recycling business, Tridea, whose mission is based on the premise that there is no such thing as waste. Their ambition is to create value from European plastic waste, by transforming it into filament. This is done by working together with local collectors, recyclers and manufacturers.  

“In a world where less than 10% of plastic is recycled and in an industry where plastic is the material feedstock, we feel it is our duty to prioritise the use of recycled materials, and by working with Tridea, we are now making progress towards reducing post-consumer waste which has a considerable lower recycling rate than post-industrial waste streams”.

Ravi Toor, Founder & Managing Director of Filamentive

“Tridea provides an innovative and wholly novel means of utilizing waste, allowing us to multiply the lifespan of consumables by considering its lifecycle pre-consumer-consumer-post-consumer.”

Philippe Merillet, CEO & co-founder of Tridea

In addition to the environmental benefit of being a 100% recycled material, ONE PET has been extensively tested for 3D printing applications – it is stiff and tough with excellent interlayer adhesion. Where regular PETg has a better impact resistance, ONE PET boasts superior technical properties such as tensile strength.

ONE PET – along with other Filamentive 3D printer filament products – can be found online via filamentive.com, via the UK distributor, 3DGBIRE, and also via a growing network of Global Resellers.The filament is also available in seven colours, in both 1.75mm and 2.85mm diameters.

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Filamentive (https://www.filamentive.com/ – ravi@filamentive.com) is a market leader in sustainable 3D printing filaments. The company has experienced rapid growth and continues to address the questions surrounding 3D printing recycled materials. Its customers include a global network of makers, businesses and education clients.

Tridea (www.tridea.coinfo@tridea.be) believe there is no such thing as waste! They have developed a 360° platform to transform your waste into useful objects. By working together they will be able to raise awareness around plastic waste, reduce your waste tonnage and transform your waste into cool and useful products that you can recycle and reuse.

Cosmic Challenge!

Filamentive is excited to launch the Cosmic Challenge, starting 07/11/2018.

This is your chance to win 1 of each colour of our popular PLA Cosmic (Red, Blue, Gold, Grey, Silver), more than £100 worth of filament!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Firstly, get yourself some PLA Cosmic – Use discount code Cosmic20 for 20% OFF on our online store (If you already have some, that’s cool too!)
  2. Next, it’s time to print! – Print something that’s out of this world!
  3. Finally, show it off – Post an image of your print using the hashtag #CosmicChallenge on either Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

The competition closes on the 28th November, and the winner will be announced shortly after on social media and our November newsletter.

The prints will be judged by us and our friend over at Filament Frenzy. (Twitter: @FilamentFrenzy)

Everyone is welcome to join in on the fun, no country is off limits! In terms of your print, it can be anything that your heart desires. Of course, it goes without saying that we won’t be accepting anything offensive or inappropriate as a valid entry.

Take a look at how some early Cosmic prints for inspiration – Lancashire3D Spaceman (Left) and 3D Maker Noob Stag (Right)

Prodpoint Print Farm – Filamentive Case Study

What is a 3D print farm?

3D printing has commonly been known as a prototyping tool – a means of bringing an idea into physical form before testing it. Conventionally, once the prototype became validated, a production method such as injection moulding could be deployed to duplicate the part into larger quantities. The setup costs of this method can however, be highly restricting, sometimes exceeding £20,000. This is where the 3D print farm emerges; a new method of manufacture, featuring dozens of printers, that assist in bridging the gap between prototype and mass-manufacture. These are quickly becoming the go to establishment for direct digital manufacturing (DDM)

Why use a 3D print farm?

3D print farms provide a useful tool for scaling up projects right from the prototyping stage to the point where they can be brought to mass-manufacture. This method can provide some serious benefits for production runs of up to 10,000 parts, here is a quick overview:

Save on costs – 3D printing has zero setup costs! Unlike injection moulding, the technology doesn’t require a mould tool to start producing parts. Projects can get going a lot faster and the cost is determined on a per-part basis. When looking to get a few hundred or thousand parts made, the cost of the mould can end up being prohibitive to the project. At this stage, 3D printing can bring a refreshing air of feasibility on those riskier projects, enabling more projects to flourish!

Change your design on-the-fly – If for any reason your design needs tweaking – no problem! You can easily update your CAD file and receive updated parts within days. No need to dish out £10,000’s on moulds. This design flexibility allows you to continue improving your design whilst continuing to sell units.  What’s more, you can also change material and colour anytime, whereas with injection moulding you will often require a new mould to compensate for the varying shrinkage ratio when the part is made.

Rocket to Market, Faster – Getting a mould made in China to produce 2,000 parts then waiting 6 weeks for your parts to arrive? Now you could save both money and time getting your parts 3D printed here in the UK.

A UK-based 3D Print Farm – ProdPoint

Prodpoint is a manufacturing company based in Clopton, Suffolk, who initially started up as a prototyping service (two printers). With the demand for batches growing continuously, the company expanded to what is now an array of 30 printers, with over 34 different processes that go into ensuring their custom printers are continuously delivering repeatable parts to meet their client’s expectations.

Prodpoint offers a range of materials (ABS, TPU, PC to name a few) that suit various applications in the Automotive, Medical, Transportation, Research, and various other design-related sectors.

Whether a 3D print farm is right for your project or not, the engineers at Prodpoint are here to offer you free advice on getting your project manufactured.

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainability

Gartner suggests that there will be 6.7 million 3D printers sold by the year 2020. Whilst at its core 3D printing is fundamentally less wasteful than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods, the use of plastic as a feedstock has the potential to exacerbate the global plastic epidemic.

Filamentive

Filamentive is a producer of high quality 3D printing filament. With a focus on sustainability, Filamentive have developed a reputation for advocating the use of bioplastics and recycled materials, without compromising on quality or mechanical properties. Providing a range of materials to suit a number of applications, Filamentive are suppliers to more than 3000 makers, businesses and universities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prodpoint & Filamentive Partnership

When Filamentive approached Prodpoint to help them reduce their impact on the environment, it was clear the solution was beneficial for both parties. The partnership has enabled Prodpoint to deliver sustainable end-use parts that uphold incredible quality. The amazing end result is that waste plastic is now being brought back into the supply chain where it isn’t harmful, and where it ends up being converted into useful parts.

 

Contact ProdPoint – Email: info@prodpoint.com or phone +44 (0) 1394 822025

Contact Filamentive – Email info@filamentive.com or phone +44 (0) 333 366 0020  

What can I print with my FREE 3D printer filament sample?

So, you might have received our free sample (click here if you haven’t requested yours yet) and you just can’t think of something from the top of your head to print with just 50g of filament. Well, here are some suggestions from us!

Benchmarking models

Many of us have a ‘benchmarking model’ that we use to test out filaments, printers, nozzles and other things. So why not try one of these?

 

Keychains

What better way to show off your 3d printing skills than having a 3d printed keychain?

Here are some of our favourites:

 

Functional items

Maybe you’re more of a practical person, why not we print something more functional? Check out these:

EASTER CLOSURE: We are closed on Friday 19th and Monday 22nd April 2019 for Easter, reopening as normal on Tuesday 23rd April 2019 - any orders/emails/enquiries will be processed on our return. Happy Easter to those celebrating! Dismiss