sol3Recycle Beacon Fz LLC, a UAE-based company developing advanced innovative solutions in the recycling and waste management field, is practicing what they preach by turning to 3D printing technology to quickly and accurately create an optimized physical prototype model of their “Smart City Sensor” – an ingenious device that has the potential to monitor recycling behavior, and provide real feedback and analytics to municipalities and waste management companies. It’s an integral part of Recycle Beacon’s “Smart Cities Smart Recycling” community platform that the company has conceived to take community recycling to a new level.

The comprehensive platform, designed to encourage and promote municipalities’ efforts in recycling consumer waste, informs and entertains through the seamless integration of its sensors network together with an education and rewards scheme. Their captivating mobile application uses gamification to provide updates and education through games, quizzes, and short articles and videos all related to recycling and environmental matters for long-term engagement with its savvy mobile app audience.

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Recycle Beacon had the concept for their sensor in sketches and drawings, and the problem facing them was how to get a physical, accurate prototype for proof of concept and product testing in order to develop their business. Instead of turning to traditional manufacturing that could take months to create the necessary tools, and would increase the development costs, Recycle Beacon turned to local UAE company, Paradigm 3D — the new 3D printing service division of technology supplier D2M Solutions, which had recently launched their 3D printing factory — to provide design consultancy to create the 3D CAD design file that would be used to 3D print the customized parts in durable ABS plastic for a fully functional prototype.sol2

Recycle Beacon was attracted to the idea of using 3D printing not only due to the time factor, but because it is increasingly regarded as being a more environmentally friendly way of manufacturing due to the fact that it’s completely free of the need to create energy-guzzling metal tooling and only the materials needed to build a 3D part are used so there is minimal waste. Additionally, Paradigm 3D’s in-house Stratasys 3D Fortus Performance printers don’t give off any dangerous emissions to the environment.

Recycle Beacon’s co-founder Valerie Schafer investigated the possibility of 3D printing after researching the fastest way to get a prototype created. Paradigm 3D’s experienced team verified the requirements, suggested some useful design adaptations, and checked the final 3D design to smooth out any issues prior to sending the CAD data for 3D printing of the final prototype model. Ms. Schafer expressed her surprise at the speed the company could come back to her with the final model:

“I met with Paradigm 3D’s Leonardos Bilalis and general manager Jimmy Nicolaides to discuss our bespoke needs. In a couple of hours they had created a 3D CAD design, and optimized our design for assembly, and at the same time suggested how some useful information could be ‘in-built’ into the 3D printed parts for ease of assembly. In addition, the changes actually reduced unnecessary materials thus reducing the print cost. From dropping into their Dubai Silicon Oasis premises on Tuesday for our discussions and final design approval, the final printed parts were ready the next day – much to my astonishment.

When I collected the prototype model, the Paradigm 3D team kindly assisted with the assembly of the sensor and its components so that I had a fully functioning model. It’s our first venture where we have used 3D printing and through our collaboration with Paradigm 3D, it’s clear that it can have distinct advantages over mainstream manufacturing for low volumes and we were particularly pleased that it is aligned with our environmental philosophy.”

Let’s hear your thoughts on this use of 3D printing in the Recycle Beacon forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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