What if it were possible to convert a plastic bottle into filaments for 3D printers and thus participate in the reduction of plastic waste? Being able to do exactly that is the idea behind the open source Polyformer machine, which was created by designer Reiten Cheng. The machine itself was built from 3D printed parts made from recycled PET. Polyformer is a solution that is supposed to be accessible to everyone and was created especially for all manufacturers who want to give plastic a second life. The main objective is to recreate objects from recycled material in order to reduce our current plastic consumption.
One of the advantages of 3D printing is its ability to use only the necessary material and thus reduce the amount of waste produced. But in addition to that, it can also add value to waste and give it a second life, a process called the “circular economy”. There are many projects that aim to transform used plastic into a 3D printed part. The Polyformer is therefore not the first machine of its kind, but it is interesting to note that it is an open source project that aims to democratize the reuse of our plastic waste through additive manufacturing.
The L-shaped machine is made from 3D printed parts and components found on traditional 3D printers. Recycled PET bottles were used as raw material, which explains their translucent appearance. Inside the machine is a slicing tool to cut the plastic bottles into long, continuous strands. They are then placed in the heated end of the machine that melts the plastic. It is then fed through a brass nozzle to create a 1.75mm filament.
The Polyformer is equipped with a red motorized spool that pulls the ribbon and winds the filament as it is made. Once filled, the spool can be easily removed for use in an FDM 3D printer.
So far, around 100 manufacturers have built their Polyformer and provided feedback to the designer to improve the solution. Reiten Cheng concludes: “I am envisioning a future where products can be made at home or in a community center and recycled into things at the end of their life that can be used again to make new products on site. The technology may not be there yet, but I think it’s not far from possible if we continue to develop and implement it as a community.” To learn more about Polyformer, click HERE.
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