By Shanie Phillips | Inside 3DP
Global warming, chemical and physical pollution and other environmental issues are no longer the far removed issues they once used to be. The world is changing quickly as a result of human life and people are finally starting to take note. In contrast to life fifty years ago, environmental issues have become such potential imminent threats that it seems everyone has a general awareness of their existence.
Companies are now morally obligated to conduct environmentally friendly business practices and include them in their code of ethics. Whether by recycling or using energy-saving electricity, everyone seems to be doing something to lessen the carbon footprint.
3D printing and the environment
3D printing has garnered some negative attention for the amount of plastic it wastes. To combat this many companies have attempted to reduce the environmental harm caused by 3D printing. There are companies like ProtoPrint and The Plastic Bankwho kill two birds with one stone by employing underprivileged people to pick up and sort through plastic waste that is then converted into 3D printer filament. There are also people trying to steer away from plastic completely, like researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology who are developing a way to produce printer filament from foods like spinach, cocoa and rice.
Leading 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems even made a 3D printer called the Ekocycle that extrudes recycled plastic bottles and uses them as filament to build products. Now, a team of designers has followed suit and created a 3D printer that has an automatic built-in plastic waste extruder.
Designers Yangzi Qin, Yingting Wang, Luckas Fischer and Hanying Xie have created what they call the 3D Re-printer. The machine works by recycling plastic bottles and converting it into raw material for 3D printing. The 3D Re-printer isn’t publicly released yet and there isn’t much information available online, but the designers revealed details of its basic functions.
“Plastic products and waste material are part of our daily lives, be it at home, in school or the office,” writes the team on itsdesign concept photo. “We don’t know where to put most of these products, or feel that it is such a waste. The quantity of plastic waste is constantly rising and thus affecting our lives in the future and causing damage to the environment due to huge landfills and the long time it takes to degrade. In addition it affects the overall beauty of our cities by creating “visual pollution.” 3D-Reprinter is a device design that allows the user to recycle the home waste plastic bottles into new products.”
From the little available information on the 3D Re-printer, it seems almost identical in functionality to 3D Systems’ $1,199Ekocycle. The 3D Re-printer doesn’t have a listed price tag yet, but if its designers choose to sell it for a relatively reasonable cost then it may be worth looking into.
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