While 3D printing promises to cut back on waste within the manufacturing industry by using an additive, rather than subtractive approach to fabrication, at the same time, current trends within the consumer market for 3D printing are creating a lot of waste, via thermoplastics.
This year, there will be nearly 120,000 desktop 3D printers sold worldwide. The majority of these machines are FFF/FDM-based, meaning they melt thermoplastics like PLA or ABS to fabricate an item. Plastic, unfortunately, even if bio-compatible, is not environmentally friendly. For instance, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be over 250 million pounds of plastics used as a material within 3D printers worldwide. The production of these materials will utilize approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil while generating over 800 million pounds of carbon emissions annually.
Something needs to be done before things get too out of control. That’s just what two men named Gerald Galazin and Mark Sherman are working on with their new startup Dimension Polymers. Early next year the company plans to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in order to fund their drive to manufacture the first professionally engineered 3D printing filament made from recycled plastic.
The co-founders, who both have backgrounds in plastics manufacturing and corporate risk management, have partnered with waste management and 3D printing industry experts to create a product that they feel will help reconfigure the environmental impact which 3D printing is projected to have. Their filament, which utilizes a special formulated recycled plastic, and can also be used within most 3D printer extruders, will reduce the carbon emissions associated with 3D printer filament by over 66%.
Over the last several months, the team at Dimension Polymers has been perfecting, prototyping and testing their formula to get it just right for the 3D printing process, while creating a feel-good product which should benefit us all. While producing the new filament, the company has ensured that there products meet the standards verified by an A2LA accredited laboratory, and has made certain that at least 95% of the plastics used within their products are sourced from recycled materials. This material percentage has been certified by SCS Global Services.
If the company can manage to produce a filament which has the same printing capabilities as other more harmful products on the market, and price it competitively, there upcoming Kickstarter campaign should be a smashing success. Let us know your thoughts on the prospects of such a new printing materials, and stay tuned to the Dimension Polymers forum thread on 3DPB.com for news regarding this company and their upcoming crowdfunding campaign.