Recycling of 3D Printer Filament
The goal of this research was to recycle 3-D printing material waste into usable 3D printing filament. Waste from 3D printing comes from excess material being used for supports or rafts, and from unsuccessfully printed parts. To accomplish this goal the machinery and processes were developed to recycle waste from the common 3D printing material PLA (polylactic acid), a bio based polymer. A two-stage mechanical shredder was built in order to reduce the size 3D printing waste into ¼ inch diameter pieces. Some recycled material was then compounded with virgin PLA in order to compare mechanical properties vs. non compounded material. A machine was then designed and built in order to draw filament of a desired diameter from an extruder. The desired diameters chosen for the production of the filament were 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm, as these diameters are compatible with most bench top 3D printers.
The mechanical properties of the recycled filament were tested and compared to commercially available PLA filament, as well the compounded mixture of recycled and commercial filament. The final outcome of the project is to reduce the waste created from 3D printing as well as create a lower cost 3D printer filament.
This project will allow for waste material that is generated from the 3D printers across campus to be recycled and used again. The recycled filament will be distributed around the university to different departments with 3D printers at a reduced price compared with what is commercially available. In addition, the finished project will give the Mechanical Engineering department the ability to experiment with new materials and fillers to make 3D printer filament.