Do you know how long it takes for a plastic bottle to decompose? There are variables, of course, but a good estimate is around 450 years – or more. That bottle of water or Diet Coke may be a fleeting object to us, passing into our possession only briefly, but after it’s tossed in the trash it goes on to live a long and full life in a landfill or, more worryingly, in the ocean. In lieu of eliminating plastic from our lives altogether – which, let’s face it, isn’t at all feasible – recycling is critical in reducing the amount of the stuff that ends up clogging our landfills and waterways.
Recycling can be fun, though! 3D printing is guilty of generating literal tons of plastic, but the industry has also come up with some really creative ways to reuse not only our damaged or useless prints but other trash as well. Just a few weeks ago we wrote about a new startup called Superior Filament, created by a group of students at Michigan Technological University. The young company began producing their own 3D printer filament last year, using recycled bottles and other plastics to generate new material. They’ve attracted a good deal of interest – and capital – from startup competitions, but they’re now ready to expand into a full-fledged company.
An Indiegogo campaign is now live with the goal of raising $10,000 in the next month. Most of the funds raised will go to machinery upgrades, as well as inventory and office space. The team is offering some pretty cool incentives for supporters, starting at $15 which will get you your very own 3D printed T-Rex skull for your desk, mantle or wherever you choose. $20 gets you a Superior Filament T-shirt, and for $30 you’ll get a 1kg spool of filament in your choice of rPET, rABS or PLA. Higher amounts will get you additional spools of filament, but once you hit $100, the rewards start getting really cool. For a donation of $100, you’ll receive a 3D printed catapult, while $1,000 will get you a 3D printed quadcopter. Donate $750, and Superior Filament will donate a 3D printed prosthetic hand to someone in need through e-NABLE.
Most rewards are estimated to ship around December of 2016. Superior Filament is also taking regular pre-orders for their filaments (and offering free samples) on their website. All spools of filament come with a 3D printed filter to keep dust and other contaminants out of your printer, and are shipped in eco-friendly bags filled with dessicant made from repurposed drywall. Currently, only three types of filament are available: regular PLA, recycled ABS made from items such as plastic silverware and Legos, and recycled PET made from plastic water bottles. Soon, though, Superior Filament will be offering recycled PLA as well as a recycled HDPE made from plastic milk jugs.
Superior Filament also wants to help you recycle. No matter how skilled we are with 3D printing, most of us have piles of failed prints lying around. Pack those messes up in a box, send them to Superior Filament, and they’ll give you a credit towards your next order. Every little bit helps – according to the company, only about 25% of plastic is currently recycled, and what isn’t recycled ends up harming wildlife and, by extension, us (such as when we eat fish that have ingested tiny bits of plastic). Every spool of recycled PET, states the company, keeps 120 plastic bottles out of the oceans – plus, for every spool of filament sold, Superior Filament will donate $1 to the Ocean Cleanup Project. Learn more about their mission of “changing the world, one spool at a time” in the video below. Are you backing the campaign? Discuss further over in the Superior 3D Filament on Indiegogo forum at 3DPB.com.