Will 3D printers be the future of plastic recycling? | Waste Wise Products

Will 3D printers be the future of plastic recycling?

Will 3D printing be the future of plastic recycling?

The creation of waste, particularly plastic waste, by modern industry, has become a vexing problem for human society. Plastic takes a thousand years to decompose. Moreover, less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled.

The emerging technology of 3D printing may help to alleviate this growing mountain of plastic waste. The technology, which is also called additive manufacturing, can help reduce plastic waste in two ways.

Most manufacturing involves cutting blocks of material to extract the shape of whatever product is being produced. The material left over is often thrown away. 3D printing, however, melts material such as plastic into filaments. The filaments are applied layer by layer according to a CAD design to create a product. Little if any material goes to waste.

3D printing can also be used as a market for the waste plastic that is ordinarily thrown away to clog oceans and landfills. The excess plastic can be melted down and then used to create a variety of products.

One can imagine a future in which recycling centers are located next to 3D manufacturing centers. Instead of dropping off recyclables out of civic duty, the deal might be sweetened by having a product created out of the recycled material, say, a smart phone case. One can also have one’s excess plastic melted down into filament material to use in one’s home or office 3D printer.

Add to the mix solar energy to power the infrastructure, and one comes a step closer to a sustainable future that turns waste into useful, inexpensive products.

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