Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Nefilatek Wants to Turn Montreal’s Waste into 3D Printing Filament

ST Medical Devices

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Nefilatek wants to take waste materials and make 3D printing filament out of them. There are other laudable 3D printing initiatives out there already, including turning weed containers into limbs, taking HP MJF powder and turning it into filament, closed-loop systems, and recycling PLA. Several firms now take PET or rPET and turn it into filament. Nefilatek’s angle is to turn to collected industrial waste materials and to turn those into filaments. The Montreal-based firm is buying recycled HIPS and ABD from Quebec based recycling center Exxel Polymer and is using them to make filaments.

“This industry will bring a lot of improvements to people, but 3D printed objects are made with different plastics, and these material have a terrible impact on the environment. Indeed, only a small proportion of plastic waste are well recycled and reused during ten to fifteen cycle as they should be, the rest are incinerated or placed in landfills. Moreover, a huge quantity of plastic never reaches the recycling bin and ends in nature which represents a critical pollution problem.

“NefilaTek is a new company that makes Eco-friendly 3D printing filament from recycled plastic. The idea is to decrease the environmental impact of the 3D printing industry by making high-quality filament from plastic waste from Montreal. Reconditioning used plastic into useful objects is the main challenge of our time to reduce plastic pollution and overproduction.”

Much of the industrial polymer materials worldwide is recycled already. Commercial recycling firms are available that trade in regrind ABS, PC, and many other materials worldwide. These polymers are offered for sale all over the globe. In recent years in some locales, regrind has been more expensive than new virgin resin pellets due to high demand. We often hear that the plastics industry is to blame for all plastic ills but the global recycling market and use of regrind materials really is formidable. Many polymers can be recycled six or seven times and if all goes right millions of tonnes are. This leads to materials having extended lifespans of many decades through many different applications. As long as there is traceability (to know what additives are in the base material) high-value applications can even be explored. In packaging and disposables, that mostly last only a few days, I think that the plastics industry is clearly part of the problem. We need innovative natural, biobased, compostable or recycled materials to be in place to solve the problem of fleeting use of polymers for silly applications such as a see-through sleeve for a cucumber. Meanwhile, in other applications, we can see that market-driven solutions do provide for an industry that has an incentive to reuse and prolong the life of these materials.

No spool filament is also a great benefit.

By engaging with this established regrind industry Nefilatek wants to offer many grades of filament to our market. The really cool thing is that absolutely every single filament producer can do the same.
The company did tell us that, “All our filaments are made from 100% recycled raw materials, we don’t have any virgin plastic in our filament.”
In many polymers, this would be hard to do, so this makes us skeptical.
R&D engineer Angel Chauffray did say something that makes us happy which is that “they’ve reached an industrial tolerance for the filament diameter 1.75mm +/- 0.05, it performs at least as well as other filaments with this tolerance.”
Another thing that did make us worry was that they’re also working on new R&D materials such as “Dark blue Polypropylene (recycled from hospitals).” If they manage to pull it off a very exciting material would be “Nylon reinforced with carbon fiber” for which they’re working with a company that recycles carbon fiber. The company also has developed PC but has not yet put it on the market.
The company currently offers ABS and HIPS. HIPS has very interesting properties but one must be careful when extruding it. ABS and HIPS should both, in my opinion, be used in a sealed printer with carbon and HEPA filters. The firm is investing in recycling equipment to test and develop more materials in house. I really love Nefilatek’s approach and wish that more people would constructively engage with the regrind industry to make high-performance filaments from recycled materials.

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