3DBear and Arcada University built a revolutionary innovation that recycles plastic into 3D-printable filament
- Now anyone can make this open source device themselves, and they can make old plastic toys new again
Press release 28th November 2017
3DBear, a startup in Helsinki, has created a plastic recycler that produces 3D-printable filament, in cooperation with Arcada University of applied sciences. The complete design is open source and is available to all consumers, libraries or educational institutions around the world free of cost.
Global accumulation of plastic waste is a big environmental problem. It is estimated that around 8 million tons of plastic waste will end up in the ocean every year. 3D printing has the potential to change the situation and improve the availability of raw materials.
Now with modern recycling technology, household waste plastics or unused toys can be converted into 3D-printed dolls, building blocks, or useful items.
"From the very beginning, our vision has been that plastic is not a waste but a valuable raw material. We decided to open up our technology globally for anyone so that everyone has the chance to benefit from this innovation." says Kristo Lehtonen, 3DBear CEO.
3DBear's recycler is part of the overall move toward the digitalisation of objects that has the potential to disrupt key sectors of current markets.
"Few people buy their music from the store on a physical disk anymore. We want to offer a similar, creative channel for children and give them the tools to design and make their own toys. It also saves parents money in the long run, when there is no need to buy overpriced brand name toys." continues Lehtonen.
Combining different types of plastics in recycling is technically challenging. For this reason, the recycling of small batches of plastic is rarely technically possible or commercially sensible. In addition, the decline in oil prices has led many recycling companies to financial difficulties.
"With our recycler, small amounts of plastic material can be efficiently recycled and made into new 3D prints. Now all the information needed to make the recycler is assembled in an easy-to-use package. Hopefully, this will generate more interest from industry, too." says Mirja Andersson, principal lecturer at Arcada.
In an interesting twist, 3D printing itself also becomes cheaper and more attractive. Currently a new roll of 3D printer plastic can cost tens of euros per kilogram, raw material is one hundredth of this cost. Consequently, the recycling of 3D plastic and local production save money for consumers. At the same time, consumers no longer have to worry about old or failed prints as they can be reprocessed.
How does the recycler work in practice?
The shredded waste plastic is guided into a metal extruder where it is heated. The plastic diameter is measured with an optical sensor to ensure quality. Often, the recycled plastic is indistinguishable from the quality of virgin material.
Watch the video at www.3dbear.io/recycler
How can a recycler be made?
The file package and design instructions are freely downloadable at: www.3dbear.io/recycler
Parts are mostly standard parts and cost-effective, many parts are 3D printable. In this way anyone can build their own recycler. The prototype recycler was manufactured as a student project, and is located on the Arcada campus, in Arabianranta, Helsinki.
For more information:
Kristo Lehtonen, Managing Director, 3DBear Oy
Mirja Andersson, Principal Lecturer/ Department of Energy and Materials, AMK Arcada
Recycler can be found at Slush on 30th November at demo booth location C.1.
3DBear is an educational technology startup, founded in Helsinki in 2016, to help teachers and library staff use the latest technology in teaching. Their primary goal is to provide pedagogic learning modules and an online learning platform for teachers for 3D-printing and Augmented Reality (AR). 3DBear has over a hundred customer schools and libraries in Finland and the United States. www.3dbear.io