Print Your Mind 3D Launches 3D Printer Filament Recycling Challenge for High School Students

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In response to the ever-growing problem of 3D printing filament waste, Calgary-based professional desktop 3D printer provider and social enterprise Print Your Mind 3D, which works to always practice business in a socially responsible way, is tasking high school students in Alberta with crowdsourcing viable solutions to turn this wasted plastic into useful products and tools. This is the focus of the company’s latest challenge for its Enviromakers initiative, which aims to build a community of makers, designers, and engineers to work together to create solutions, using 3D printing, for real-world problems.

“From functional prints for everyday use, to medical and even aerospace engineering applications 3D printing is changing the way we design, prototype and create. As this usage continues to rise, sustainable measures and practices are becoming a larger and larger priority. While 3D printing provides a much cheaper and somewhat environmentally friendly option, as anyone with a 3D printer knows, filament waste tends to build up fairly quickly. This waste comes in the form of support material, failed print, and obsolete projects,” the background for the PLA Recycling Challenge reads.

“This competition aims to utilize 3D printed waste filament as an opportunity to educate students about the importance of sustainable development, technology and practices. Furthermore, we challenge students to propose creative and innovative ways to recycle or reuse waste filament in their local community.”

The challenge is open to any Alberta student in grades 10-12, though it’s recommended to have a teacher help champion a team. Participants must propose and develop a plan for either converting waste PLA material, or reusing it, in order to make a new tool or product. The plan has to include everything that would needed to execute the idea, in addition to a clearly articulated description of how it will be used and what makes it different. Students can create an entirely new idea, or build and improve upon previous applications.

The deadline for initial proposal submission is November 15th, after which a panel of recycling industry experts will select the top ten teams to go on as finalists. The finalists will get to build working prototypes and showcase them at a live event in June.

In order to make it to the final level, teams should include a viable plan for the final product, which includes the following:

  • Project description that identifies the problem and how the proposal will address it
  • Technical approach that describes how the solution works and will be built and implemented
  • Budget estimate and list of materials and equipment needed to build the solution
  • Expected timeline for how long it will take to develop the initial project iteration
  • Breakdown of economic viability, including how much it costs to produce the solution

In addition, because PLA has several limitations, such as needing special precautions so it is food-safe, participants should clearly explain how they will address these challenges.

The teams will be judged on criteria such as feasibility, impact, novelty, how they address material limitations, and overall presentation. In addition, while there is technically no challenge budget for teams, proposals will be judged, at least in part, on their resourcefulness.

“The best solutions may not be the ones that require the most expensive equipment,” Print Your Mind 3D warns in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the challenge.

The grand prize will be a new Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer, which will come with the Ultimaker app, swappable 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm nozzles, a 0.75 kg spool of silver PLA filament, Cura print preparation software, a calibration card for build plate leveling, a 12-month warranty, and lifetime support from Print Your Mind 3D, in addition to items like a USB cable and glue stick. Additional prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.

To register a high school team for the new Print Your Mind 3D PLA Recycling Challenge, visit the challenge website.

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