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How Green are 3D Printing Users?

Consumer awareness around sustainability has vastly increased in recent years; the debate about plastic specifically has transitioned from fringe debates into the mainstream. A 2018 Nielsen report highlighted that 81% of those surveyed felt strongly that companies should help to improve the environment

As a provider of 3D printer filament made from recycled sources (where possible), sustainability is central to our ethos and business model. As such, in early 2019 we carried our a Material Sustainability survey which gathered more than 200 responses from 3D printer users – ranging from at-home hobbyists to professionals working in global businesses. 

This post will specifically focus on the attitudinal questions regarding environmental matters, as well as market demand for recycled materials in order to ascertain,  How Green are 3D Printing Users?


After sending the survey to current customers, email database and sharing via social media and industry partners, 206 responses were received. 59.80% of respondents regarded themselves as hobbyists users, 26.47% were business / professional users – with the remainder classifying themselves as researchers / education / community users of 3D printing.


Green Value

One section of the survey consisted of questions aimed to gauge the green value of respondents – essentially their attitude to the environment / plastic problem. 

As seen in the charts above, 97.55% considered plastic pollution to be a problem and even more – 99.51% – believed it is important for them, as individuals, to act sustainably in general. Both results evident strong beliefs towards environmental sustainability. 

The third question surrounding attitude to the environment / plastic problem was more specific to 3D printing – asking whether they believe the rise in plastic use due to 3D printing to be a problem. Interestingly, the response to this question was more mixed – even still, more than two-thirds of those asked said Yes – clearly stating their thought that rising plastic use in 3D printing is a problem

This could be explained by the fact that 3D printing is fundamentally less wasteful than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods and so on quick assessment it is more sustainable than other forms of ‘making’. However, the use of plastic as a feedstock will only increase demand for plastic.



Market Demand

The following section of the survey was geared towards market demand

98.54% of respondents indicated their preference for filament made from recycled material.

Aggregating this with the results from the green value questions in the section previous, there is a very strong correlation between environmental awareness and market demand – in summary we can conclude that 3D printing users are environmentally aware and this highly influences their purchasing intention. 

The second question in this section sought to discover underlying motivations. As seen in the chart above, lowering environmental impact was cited as their primary reason for using recycled material in 3D printing – which again correlates with stated (strong) environment awareness. 

The second most popular answer – satisfy growing environmental awareness amongst stakeholders – is also significant as it reflects the findings of the aforementioned 2018 Nielsen report which highlighted that 81% (of those surveyed) felt strongly that companies should help to improve the environment. 



Conclusion

Consumer awareness around sustainability has vastly increased in recent years and as seen in the results from this survey, it is clear that 3D printing users are extremely environmentally aware.

Despite the narrow view that 3D printing is sustainable, most are concerned that rising plastic use in 3D printing is a problem. As such, the overwhelming majority use / wish to use recycled materials – as opposed to virgin alternatives which will only worsen our plastic problem – in order to lower the environmental impact of 3D printing.



Filamentive

Recycled 3D Printer Filament

At Filamentive, environmental sustainability is central to our business model. In order to reduce the impact of (FFF) 3D printing and mitigate the Plastic Problem we commit to:

  • Using recycled materials (both 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
  • Using 100% recyclable cardboard spools to further reduce waste


UK business rigid.ink ceases filament supply

As some of you may be aware, UK filament brand, rigid.ink, recently announced that they are ceasing to supply filaments to the 3D printing world.

Rigid.ink have served thousands of 3D printer users over the last 5 years and earned a strong reputation in the market, with a clear passion for high quality and great customer service – sentiments we echo here at Filamentive, and values all businesses should strive for.

To help ensure continuity of supply, we have a special offer for rigid.ink customers: 

Please use code RIGID20 for 20% OFF your first order

Offer ends 30th November 2019. Cannot be used in conjunction with other discount codes and / or sale items.

Please note: This is NOT officially endorsed by rigid.ink – we’re just offering such a promotion to proactively support those requiring filament from a new supplier.

We hope that this offer is not viewed as insincere in anyway. Naturally, this is a sensitive situation and the team at rigid.ink have our best wishes as they pivot towards a new beginning with the Institute of 3D Printing.

As a fellow UK brand, who also uphold high levels of product quality and customer service, we aim to offer rigid.ink customers continuity of supply and filament they can rely on – whether printing for pleasure, profit, or both! 


If there are any questions related to this or just about Filamentive and our products in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us our professional and friendly team:

E: info@filamentive.com

T: +44 (0) 333 366 0020

For those interested in the rigid.ink 3D printing training suite, please click here for more information.

The Greener Filament Spool – MasterSpool vs Cardboard

Having sustainability at the heart of our company’s operations, any initiative that aims to reduce wastage and use less plastic in 3D printing is welcomed by us. The MasterSpool initiative certainly grabbed our attention when it was first conceptualised (even before companies started picking it up). Needless to say, we followed its development very closely and did our own research to find a way to integrate it into our system. However, in the end we decided to go with cardboard spools instead. But why? In this post we break down some of the issues we identified with MasterSpool while determining our options for the “greener spool”.


For a start, our main product line at that time consisted of 1kg spools, not 750g (Although we do offer this weight too now).  However, even if we moved to MasterSpool completely, the total weight considered for shipping a spool of filament would still be over 1kg so the cost savings would be minimal, if there would be any at all. Understandably, the companies that were previously offering 750g spools would be more receptive to this from a cost-saving point of view. 

We also feel that 1kg spools are more sustainable than the 750g counterparts. Let’s take an example of a client who uses 150kg over a period of time. This is equivalent to 150 spools of 1kg reels or 200 spools of 750g reels. Buying in 750g quantities means 50 extra spools would have to be shipped to achieve the same weight! Think of all the extra packaging, transport emissions and carbon footprint impact in general!

We provide ourselves on being customer-centric; when we liaised with some of our regular customers, many felt that using the MasterSpool would prove to be an inconvenience – especially those with multiple 3D printers – as they would have to constantly print extra spools to accommodate the MasterSpool format of filaments. Many of our clients run 3D-print farms – with some running 24 hour production they’d rather be printing actual jobs, not holders for the spools! 

Image by Tom Jackson / @FilamentFrenzy

Our production partners also informed us that to accommodate MasterSpool, the winding equipment would have to be modified, cable ties would have to be added and the packaging process is completely different. All of these increase the manufacturing costs and would have to be passed onto our customers, which we were not too keen on doing. Moreover, as the format inherently requires more human intervention, it increases the likelihood of a coil coming loose, which can cause winding issues or bends within the filament rolls.


However, we wanted to know what our customers wanted as well. We sent out a survey (>200 respondents) that explored this concept further and these were the results.

Survey results


Almost two-thirds of the survey participants were in favour of cardboard spools! This was a big eye opener for us as we initially believed that it would be a close battle between cardboard spools and the MasterSpool concept.

Knowing the sentiments of our customers and doing our own research, we decided that cardboard spools were the best way forward for us. Cardboard is a widely recycled material that can easily be recycled after use by both consumers and industrial users. The spools would provide a strong and durable base that protects the filament in transit and in storage. Moreover, as the cardboard spools are 10% lighter than their ABS counterparts, it is better for shipping and it has a lower environmental carbon footprint during transportation. 



In conclusion, whilst we see the merits of MasterSpool, cardboard seemed the more sustainable and efficient option – given our user-base, existing product weights and production feasibility.

We are happy to be one of the first filament brands to provide high-quality filament reeled on cardboard spools and for the benefit of our planet we would love to see more brands follow our lead with sustainable spool solutions – be it cardboard, MasterSpool or even a new innovation!

Check out our entire product range here! 



Hopefully this has been an interesting and informative read – feel free to visit
filamentive.com for more information or email us.

3D Printer Filament Comparison: PLA versus ABS

PLA and ABS are two of the most popular 3D printer filament materials. This comparison will hopefully give you more knowledge on both materials and help you select the best filament for your project.

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

  • Sturdy, strong
  • High melting point
  • Not easy to print

ABS is a very common thermoplastic known in the injection molding industry. It is used for toys such as LEGO, constructions in the automotive industry and in protective headgear. Compared to PLA, parts printed in ABS tend to have higher strength, flexibility and last longer. However, ABS filaments tend to warp and it is an absolute must to have a heated bed for successful prints. ABS also tends to give out more toxic and unpleasant fumes while being printed and hence it is extremely important to have good ventilation while printing.

Did you know? Our ABS 3D Printer Filament is strong, minimal warp and contains up to 64% recycled material.


PLA – Polylactic Acid

  • Biodegradable, derived from corn starch / sugarcane
  • Shinier / Smoother finish
  • Easy to print
  • Very little issues of shrinkage, warp or cracks while printing

PLA is one of the most popular bioplastics that is usually used in plastic cups, disposable tableware or food packaging. Along with a much lower printing temperature compared to ABS, PLA does not require a heated bed to be printed. However, it is important to note that PLA is a lot more brittle than ABS. As a result, PLA is more commonly used in applications where form is more important than function. The overall 3D printing experience would be a lot better with PLA as it does not give off an unpleasant odour while printing.

Did you know? Our PLA 3D Printer Filament low warp, has limited smell and premium print quality – plus contains a high percentage of recycled material.


With similar price ranges between the two materials, it often comes down to the application of the print as to which material is superior. Although ABS has superior mechanical properties, it is a lot harder to print with and requires a heated bed. On the other hand, PLA is ideal for prints where aesthetics are important.


ePLA engineering PLA – best of both worlds?

Do you know our ePLA range of products aims to take the best aspects of PLA and ABS and combine them into a single material?

An engineering-grade PLA filament, with performance comparable to ABS. Features a heat resistance of 95°C< (after annealing) and the ability to print at speeds up to 120mm/s. ePLA gives a semi-matte finish. Tough and strong PLA.

With the mechanical properties of ABS and the ease of printing of PLA, e-PLA might just suit the exact requirement for your next project! Check it out here!


What to do with Failed Prints and 3D Printing Waste? 

What to do with Failed Prints and 3D Printing Waste? 

Recently we sent out a material sustainability survey (thank you to those who contributed). One question was What do you consider as the biggest cause/s of 3D printing waste? – as you can see from the results table below, 80.98% of respondents indicated that failed prints was the biggest cause. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In a previous blog post, we had briefly discussed about the possibility of using failed prints for extrusion purposes. However, we understand that having such a set up can be expensive and impractical for someone doing 3D printing as a hobby.

As a big advocate for sustainability in the 3D printing world, one of the things that caught our attention recently was the endeavours of Devin at Make Anything and Michael at Teaching Tech.

They had both made attempts to recycle then upcycle failed prints. They took failed prints, support materials and purging elements and shredded them to much finer parts. Then, they laid it all out onto a baking dish / moulds and left it for a short period of time until the plastics combined and took on the form of the container.  It was interesting to see how failed prints can be used in other ways, apart from being thrown into an extruder to be made into filament again. We believe that these could potentially be options for makers around the world to explore in terms of recycling failed prints as they do not require much more expensive equipment to pull off.

These methods are further explained by their respective content creators as shown here:

Recycle waste 3D prints [Teaching Tech.]

Failed Print Recycling Revisited [Make Anything]

Recently, our friend Daniel Melville from HandyDan’s3DPrints demonstrated how he up-cycled failed prints into funky coasters.

HandyDans Upcycled Failed Prints

HandyDans Upcycled Failed Prints

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Moving forward

Whilst recycling failed prints and 3D printing waste from customers remains challenging for Filamentive as a business, we feel the methods discussed in this blog post at least provide a source of creative inspiration to those looking recycling & upcycle their 3D printing waste – especially if a filament extruder is not a viable option. 

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.

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