3D printing for recycling plastic. 3D printers are used for the recycling of plastic waste into usable products.
The invention of plastic has proven to be a boon to a wide variety of industries, as products can be more cheaply manufactured with the material than, say, metal. However, the proliferation of plastic has proven to be a headache for people concerned with trash disposal. Plastic bags and other products clog landfills and have created islands of the material that float in the ocean, putting wildlife at hazard.
According to EcoWatch, a couple of Dutch companies called The New Raw and Aectual have formed a joint venture that proves the old adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The project, called Print Your City, uses discarded plastic bags as feedstock for 3D printers to create benches for Amsterdam’s public spaces.
Efforts to recycle plastic rather than trash it are nothing new. However, the technology of 3D printing has created more opportunities to take the material and give it a second life as the basis of more useful products. The benches being printed from old plastic bags are shaped like rocking chairs and can accommodate up to four people at a time. The capabilities of a 3D printer allow for these benches to be custom made. Moreover, when the benches wear out, they can be broken up, the material fed into a 3D printer, and then reused up to seven times.
If the process becomes economical, one could anticipate plastic trash being made into a variety of furniture and similar products. Thus, the technology of 3D printing facilitates modern recycling of garbage that otherwise might become an eyesore and, in some cases, a hazard to the environment.
Indeed, in a business which uses a lot of plastic bags, the operation could be accomplished in house, creating a new line of products created by material that was once thrown out as waste of sent to a central recycling center.