[Image: The Times of India]

You may not think about the number of times you throw discarded waste items into your trash can every day, rather than trudging out to the recycling bin instead, but it’s probably significant. There is a lot of waste in the world today, but luckily, there are also a lot of people working hard to reduce the amount. Companies and researchers all around the world are busy recycling waste, be it plastic or otherwise, and turning it into 3D printing filament and 3D printers. Two years ago, a New Zealand design student focused his entire master’s thesis on using 3D printing technology to help with the severe waste disposal crisis in Samoa. Now, a university in India is taking a page out of his book, with a first of its kind course in the region.

This week, at the Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in northern India, a waste management initiative was inaugurated under the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN) will focus on teaching a 3D and 4D additive manufacturing course, called Waste Management by Additive Manufacturing.

“Additive manufacturing (AM), colloquially known as 3D printing, is currently being promoted as the spark of a new industrial revolution,” said Fernando Fraternali, Professor of Structural Mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Salerno in Italy. “The technology allows one to make customized products without incurring any cost penalties in manufacturing as neither tools nor molds are required. Moreover, AM enables the production of complex and integrated functional designs in a one-step process, thereby also potentially reducing the need for assembly work.”

He also said that both 3D and 4D printing techniques are “widely used” in terms of waste management. The new course is the first of its kind in the region where the faculty members teaching it are from India and Italy, and its objective is the application of additive manufacturing technology in relation to waste management. According to Dr. Rupinder Singh, Professor of Production Engineering and one of the local course coordinators, waste management is “the need of the hour.”

Fraternali, who is actively involved in waste management projects and research, and Dr. Singh were co-authors of a paper published last year, titled “Recycling of plastic solid waste: A state of art review and future applications,” which compiled the various research work already completed in the field of recycling, regarding different methods of recovery, and management, of plastic solid waste (PSW).

According to the paper, “Plastic waste is harmful as its pigment contains many trace elements that are highly toxic. As a result, environmental pollutants from synthetic plastics have been identified as a huge hassle. PSW is being produced on a massive scale worldwide and its production crosses the 150 million tonnes per year globally.”

The course will offer students hands-on experience in using additive manufacturing and investment casting technology to manage several different kinds of waste, including:

  • solid waste
  • e-waste
  • PSW

The applications of the course, and the technology it covers, could impact both firm and industry levels.

The principal of GNDEC, Dr. Sehajpal Singh, said, “We can make bionic implants which body can accept and even if the person has deformity since birth can also be looked after such techniques.”

Rupinder Singh with the low-cost feed stock filament spool at GNDEC. [Image: Ashwani Dhiman, Tribune News Service]

In addition to the new waste management course, a team of experts from GNDEC’s Production Engineering department have also developed feed stock 3D printing filament using only waste materials and graphene, which makes it possible to conduct electricity through the filament.

“While on the surface it doesn’t conduct electricity, but from the inside it can,” explained Dr. Singh. “These properties will be available for whatever is made from this spool.”

The waste material that makes up the unique feed stock filament isn’t just discarded plastic, either.

Professor Arvind Dhingra with GNDEC said, “We have developed the filament by adding raw material from egg shells, which is 96% calcium. In fact our teeth are also 96% calcium. We have 3-D printed tooth caps, using the hydroxilapatite (HAP), which thus, will be much more easily accepted by the body because of a similar nature of the composition material. It will also be possible for body cells to grow on this material.”

The feed stock filament is available for only a fraction of the cost of other 3D printing material spools on the market. A spool of the GNDEC filament is only Rs200, versus the Rs5,000 price in China and Rs22,000 in the US. Dr. Singh says that the low cost of the recycled feed stock filament will make the use of 3D printing to manufacture products in India more viable.

Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

 

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