In order to assist researchers explore the full potential of distributed recycling of post-consumer polymer waste, this article describes a recyclebot, which is a waste plastic extruder capable of making commercial quality 3-D printing filament. The device design takes advantage of both the open source hardware methodology and the paradigm developed by the open source self-replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) 3-D printer community. Specifically, this paper describes the design, fabrication and operation of a RepRapable Recyclebot, which refers to the Recyclebot’s ability to provide the filament needed to largely replicate the parts for the Recyclebot on any type of RepRap 3-D printer. The device costs less than $700 in mate rials and can be fabricated in about 24 h. Filament is produced at 0.4 kg/h using 0.24 kWh/kg with a diameter ±4.6%. Thus, filament can be manufactured from commercial pellets for <22% of commercial filament costs. In addition, it can fabricate recycled waste plastic into filament for 2.5 cents/kg, which is <1000X commercial filament costs. The system can fabricate filament from polymers with extrusion temperatures <250 °C and is thus capable of manufacturing custom filament over a wide range of thermopolymers and composites for material science studies of new materials and recyclability studies, as well as research on novel applications of fused filament based 3-D printing.
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This is genuinely amazing. My brain is exploding as I'm realizing the size of the impact this can have on the environment and plastic waste.
I've been sort it lightly following some of the open source hardware on precious plastics, this sounds exactly like something they would be doing. Are you working with them? If so that's awesome!
Thank you! We certainly know of PP but are not directly working with them -- they have real strength in machine shop work - which we only sometimes do (depending on students and shop availability - as it often is booked solid mid semester) so we have been trying to push really hard on more accessible replication techniques. This ones still has a long way to go - I am sure we can push the costs further down - currently we are working on a webcam based filament diameter sensor feedback loop that will help simplify it again....
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